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Monday, October 3, 2016

Solving Drinking Water Problem

With massive urbanization developing countries like India which have a creaky infrastructure can have great problems in delivering basic necessities to the people. Access to clean drinking water is a problem in many parts of India. But science does have the solution to the problem. 

Indian weather for most part of the year is hot and humid. Humidity is presence of water in the atmosphere in form of vapour. Now if you have a technology which can cool this atmospheric vapour down and accumulate the water at one place, you solve the problem of of shortage of drinking water. 

Luckily across the world in India and Israel, researchers have come up with solutions that work. Here are the links WaterMaker (India) Watergen (Israel).

Having machines like this installed at public places will help you get access to pure drinking water at very low cost, WaterMaker's cost of producing water is Re 0.80 to Rs 1.4 per litre as compared to bottled drinking water sold commercially for Rs 15 per litre. 

Having access to pure drinking water will reduce the occurence of waterborne diseases resulting in healthier population. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Questioning Vivekananda

This is a small part of a lecture given by Swami Vivekananda on January 8, 1900.

 I was in the city of Hyderabad(the Hyderabad mentioned over here is most probably Hyderabad, Sindh. Which is now in Pakistan.) in India, and I was told of a BrĂ¢hmin there who could produce numbers of things from where, nobody knew. This man was in business there; he was a respectable gentleman. And I asked him to show me his tricks. It so happened that this man had a fever, and in India there is a general belief that if a holy man puts his hand on a sick man he would be well. This Brahmin came to me and said, "Sir, put your hand on my head, so that my fever may be cured." I said, "Very good; but you show me your tricks." He promised. I put my hand on his head as desired, and later he came to fulfil his promise. He had only a strip of cloth about his loins, we took off everything else from him. I had a blanket which I gave him to wrap round himself, because it was cold, and made him sit in a corner. Twenty-five pairs of eyes were looking at him. And he said, "Now, look, write down anything you want." We all wrote down names of fruits that never grew in that country, bunches of grapes, oranges, and so on. And we gave him those bits of paper. And there came from under his blanket, bushels of grapes, oranges, and so forth, so much that if all that fruit was weighed, it would have been twice as heavy as the man. He asked us to eat the fruit. Some of us objected, thinking it was hypnotism; but the man began eating himself — so we all ate. It was all right.
He ended by producing a mass of roses. Each flower was perfect, with dew-drops on the petals, not one crushed, not one injured. And masses of them! When I asked the man for an explanation, he said, "It is all sleight of hand."
Whatever it was, it seemed to be impossible that it could be sleight of hand merely. From whence could he have got such large quantities of things?

Reading this piece raises more questions than it gives answers. First of all, if it is true that such a man did exist then why we don't find any record of the man by anyone else?

Secondly Why the man did not use his powers to feed the starving and poor. It was a well known fact that most of India back then was poor and people were starving?

Finally why didn't Vivekananda learn the tricks himself and feed the people whom he thought about so much?

The above questions raise an obvious question. Did Vivekananda create a story while giving his lecture? What was the need of such a lecture. ?

It is a very well known fact that one cannot create stuff out of zero. One form of matter can be transformed into another form of matter and why today we don't have a single person who can emulate such a feat.

Obviously what's described by him violates the laws of physics. So I believe its very much possible that he just made a story up while giving his lecture. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Double Solution - Producing petroleum from waste plastic

Plastics are basically hydrocarbons that are extracted from petroleum. Plastics are used in every sphere of life whether it be bags, electronic devices, clothing, sports material, construction, vehicles etc.. While plastics are low cost and durable once the plastic products are of no use they are disposed off in the garbage bins. It is here that the problem starts.

It takes hundreds of years for plastics to completely decompose as a result plastic waste is on a rise and its choking up the oceans and rivers across the world for years. However scientists from across the world and India have come up with solutions that would not only convert this waste plastic into gold but also eliminate the land and water pollution that is caused because of plastics.

As mentioned earlier plastics are hydrocarbons produced from crude oil. Hence if we can find a technology that can reconvert waste plastic back to crude oil, we can solve many of our problems. Over the last couple of years scientists in India, US and a few other countries have successfully extracted petroleum from waste plastic. In fact Indian Railways had announced its plan to set up a plant to produce diesel from waste plastic back in April 2015. 

According to government figures 60 Indian cities produce 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year. As per the report one ton of waste plastic can produce 850 litres of diesel/petrol. So we can get millions of litres of petrol and diesel from waste plastic that would reduce our oil import bills and eliminate the pollution caused by plastic waste. 

Globally speaking each year 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the oceans. So this technology will reduce our need to extract oil from wells and at the same time we can prevent any plastic going into the oceans. In fact if we are able to retrieve at least some of the plastic that is dumped in the oceans we can get billions of litres of petrol and diesel. 

This is an example of the advantage that we have when we invest in science and technology research. We not only find solutions of complex problems but also enrich our lives. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Astrology is no science

Astrology has been there since ancient times. It was supposed to be a science that would foretell human future. People believed in astrology got their horoscopes made. In India astrology was taught to all Brahmins as a subject. 

However the belief in astrology was more out of fear and the priests of ancient times fueled that fear by telling the people about various shortcomings and bad events that are going to happen in one's life and how can it can be overcome. The Brahmins got lots of gifts from people and kings and also tremendous amount of respect in the society because of this.

Astrology is supposed to tell us about of the future by just looking up to the stars in the sky. In ancient times when the rules of astronomy were formulated, humans can only look up to the sky and believed that what they saw comprised of the entire universe a few thousand stars, a moon, the sun and a few planets. 

It was only much later that the telescope was invented and subsequent rapid development in technology led to the discovery of billions of galaxies with hundreds of billions of stars in each of them. The universe also comprises of black holes.  Later it was discovered that the major amount of universe comprises of invisible dark matter and dark energy. 

It is absolutely impossible for the astrologers to take all this celestial bodies into account and formulate any set of rules that would predict the future of an individual. Astrology is all myth. It is no science at all. People believe in astrology out of fear and a bunch of unscrupulous astrologers make good money out of their fear.

So my advice to you all is "Stay away from astrologers and astrology".

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Softbank to acquire ARM Holding for $32 bn

Most of the microprocessors sold today are designed by ARM. ARM designs RISC microprocessors that are used in mobile phones, tablets other microcomputers. Single board computers like Raspberry Pi and Parallela also uses processors designed by ARM. ARM is a UK based company. 

Now yesterday reports have come in media that says the Japan's Softbank will acqurie ARM Holdings for a neat sum of $32 billion. Currently ARM Holdings has a revenue of $1.281 billion and an operational profit of $537 million. ARM is indeed a highly profitable company. Softbank's offer to acquire ARM indicates that it is betting on the future. The company is willing to pay a price that is almost 28 times ARM's current revenue. 

Actually Japan's Softbank has its eye set on the Internet of things, where every electronic device will be connected to each other and seamlessly share information among themselves. With the development in Deep Learning and AI, we can look forward to a future where we will have smarter televisions, refrigerators and microwave ovens. Softbank is surely aiming at this market and they are definitely expecting the market for low power consuming ARM processors to grow multiple fold. 

Softbank may also be aiming computer, supercomputer and server market of the future, if they develop faster processors. With this Japanese will be back in the microprocessor industry and can potentially lead the market of the future. Softbank is not a small company either it has a global revenue of $86.42 billion. 

The acquisition of ARM holdings will give them a foothold in the microprocessor and graphical processor industry, they are vital components for computing. We have to wait and see if this acquisition leads to some increase in the price of microprocessor which may lead to slight increase in the price of mobile phones and tablets. 

The acquisition will be the biggest acquisition made by any Japanese company.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

God vs Science

The highest form of evolution of life on earth --- the humans have something that differentiates them from the rest of the animal kingdom. Humans are inherently inquisitive about their own existence. We want to know about everything we see, we see a stone and are intrigued how it got there? what is  it made up of? How did it come into existence.

Our inborn curiosity and the quest of finding the truth has got us to where we are today. Every phenomenon that we observed in nature, we tried to find the cause of it. At times we made some assumptions, which in turn turned out to be completely false. In ancient times Indians were taught that the demons Rahu and Ketu completely or partially swallowed the sun and moon respectively and that was the cause of solar and lunar eclipses. Today we know that this is complete nonsense, but back in ancient times this eclipses were observed with fear.

What's more this Rahu and Ketu demons got into astrology. Astrology is  a funny pseudo-science where people are trying to predict the future of a person depending on the positions of the planets and stars. Now this planets and stars are the ones that can only be observed by the naked eye. After the invention of telescope and after subsequent improvements in the telescope's design, millions of other stars and planets were discovered. However they will never make their way into the astrologer's algorithm.

People believe in astrology out of fear or superstition. No one is bothered to analyse the correctness of the astrologers predictions. In most cases the predictions are completely false or they are simply most likely situations that is likely to happen. Although in recent times faith in astrology has come down due to increase in scientific knowledge, it is still pretty high even in developed nations.

The fact is astrologers are busy making money by fooling people -- taking advantage of their insecurities, anxiety and fear. Most ancient books that we read today are full of false things are products of someone else's imagination.

The existence of God itself is questionable, sif god really exists then he will never mind communicating with us – his children. So all the stories of having seen god are either false or are some alien interactions. It is very much possible what people described as interactions with divine beings are but interactions with some advanced living beings from some other part of the universe.

This can be explained by taking our own example. When our technology advances to a level at which we can do space travel easily, change our physical forms as per situation, then we will be visiting different parts of the universe and try to make contact with living beings elsewhere in the universe.

There are many who simply tend to dismiss alien theory as pseudo-science, as a piece of fickle imagination. These people must understand the fact that the entire universe is made of the same material that exists on earth. The conditions in different planets that revolve around different stars maybe different, but that does not mean that there can't be life on any of those planets. They would be different kinds of living organisms. They might have evolved before us, they may be a million years ahead of us in terms of intelligence.

Considering the fact that our scientific and technological achievements are growing exponentially in a million years we will be super gods. We can't even imagine what knowledge we will have then and what amazing technology we will posses. Now if you imagine somewhere else in the universe there were beings who were similar to us just a million years ago, so by now they have achieved such high levels of knowledge and technological development that we can easily mistake them for god.

The ancient man was not aware of the vastness of the Universe. For him the earth was the centre of the Universe, the sun , other planets and stars revolved around earth. As technology developed we came to know that what we can observe with the naked eye was a less than micro-drop in the super vast ocean of the universe.

In our own galaxy there are over a 100 billion stars. Planets revolve around this stars. So there are at least a trillion planets in the Milky Way. Now there are trillions of such galaxies in the universe. To say that life does not exist anywhere else in the universe is the most ignorant and foolish statement that one can make.

Once we have the technology where we will become half robots -half humans along with the technology to travel anywhere in the universe and the know how of utilizing space-time wormholes to travel across the different parts of the universe, we would probably become gods to living beings that are in the initial stages of their evolution.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Stem cells for Brain and research on Brain Science

A few days ago I came across this article in ScienceAlert. It is about a research that is done on stroke patients by injecting stem cells into their brain. It was found that all the stoke patients on which the clinical trials took place showed marked improvement in their mobility, speech and brain functions. As you can read in this article, the lead researcher describes how a woman who could move only her left thumb was now able to walk and raise her arms above her shoulder after she was injected with stem cells into the brain.

The researchers are still studying the mechanism. It seems that the injection of stem cells into the brains of people makes the brain younger. This is very significant since this may lead to not only stroke patients but also normal people improving their brain functions at old age.

As you can read in the article it is mentioned that we have underestimated brain's ability to heal itself. Research on the human brain is very important, this research might give us clues of how we can improve the functionality of our brain. So in the future we may have treatments that can improve our logical and mathematical abilities to extraordinary levels. We may be able to create treatments that can make average individuals get extraordinary hand eye co-ordination like the best sportsmen.

We may be able to induce talents in people in different areas like painting, music etc. Research on brain and brain science is very important for humanity to go to the next level of its evolution.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Machine Learning - Its implications

Machine learning can potentially change the world and in terms of intelligence this self learning systems can take over human intelligence. This TED Talk explains the true potential of Machine learning.  

Deep learning a form of Machine Learning is growing exponentially. Which means that not only the the machines are learning fast, but they are learning faster and faster. As you can see in the graph shown in the video, deep learning systems are only 5 years aways from equalling human intelligence. 

The improvement in machine learning implies that we will have more intelligent computers and intelligent robots in the future. There will be a time when robots are going to make more robots that will constantly keep improving itself. It is practically possible that we will have implants that will make us humanoids. Half humans half robots. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

The power of Genetics

DNA  or deoxyribonucleic acid is very important for the existence of life. Genes are strands of DNA. This genes are responsible for our structural and functional features in all living beings.

The field of genetics is a relatively new area of research. Watson and Crick found the structure of DNA in 1953. The structure of DNA resembles a spiral staircase. In 65 years humans have come a long way in this field.

The field of genetics and biotechnology holds a lot of promise. Greater understanding of genes and their function can help humans design their own genes in such a way that they end up being more intelligent species. Humans can potentially change their genes such that they are able to adapt to the conditions of alien planets.

Genetic diseases will be eliminated as well. Humans can potentially become superhumans with greater knowledge of genetics. We can control our height, physique and other physical attributes. It maybe possible to genetic talents in individuals in people who don't posses such genes. 

In short if humans are to branch out across the universe, for that humans have to acquire the knowledge of genetics to adapt their bodies to live in any condition anywhere in the universe. Knowledge is Power. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why Love

One often wonders why life evolved on earth, why certain compounds in the planet came together and formed a system that would grow, divide and create its own copies and evolve from simple one cell living being to complex multicellular living organisms. 

As organisms grew more and more complex, they developed their neurons into complex neural networks which ultimately evolved into their brains. The brain controlled the various functions of the body both internal and external. The brain connected to various parts of the body through a vast network of neurons. 

This neurons would communicate the information in form of electric impulses to the brain. The brain would send information to appropriate part of the body to take the correct action. If the skin organism touches fire, the neurons attached to the part of the skin would immediately send the signals to the brain , the instinctive intelligence that evolved in the organisms over millions of years would direct them move that portion of body away from the fire. 

Various sense organs developed like the eyes, nose, ears, tongue etc. This organs sent information to the brain about the various happenings around the organism, so that the organism can react to the feedback and take appropriate action for it to survive. 

There is one more evolutionary instinct that developed in almost all living beings in varying degrees. We call that Love. This is more apparent in case of mammals, specially humans. 

Man and woman fall in love and started staying together. Which later evolved into marriage as humans got more civilized. The civilized humans controlled their basic sexual instinct and had sex only with their married partners. Of course in many cases deviations were there when the man or woman had sex with other partners, however 99.9% of the sexual intercourses in humans happened between married partners. The number may vary with country, culture and time period but the proportion of married sex is always much higher.

Since most sexual intercourses happened between married partners, the probability of the female partner getting pregnant with the baby of her married male partner is close to 100%. It is commonly observed that women have more attraction towards love and relationships, they tend to have sex with only those men who would stay with them for a long period of time. This can be easily understood, first of all the man has only one function, release the seamen in the vagina of the female sex partner. 

That is exactly why sexual intercourse evolved in living beings. The seamen contains the sperms that fuses with the egg of the female. Once that happens a baby is conceived in the womb of the female organism. The cells keep dividing fast and slowly different organs are formed. Then after a certain period of time the baby is good enough to come out of womb of the mother and live and grow in the world. 

When a woman gets pregnant she needs someone too look after her during pregnancy, this is where the role of the male partner comes into play, specially during the later and final months of pregnancy. Both parents have a major role in bringing up the baby. The mother's role is very vital in bringing up the baby, specially in case of humans and other mammals. The mammals have mammary glands, the mammary glands produces milk, which is the main food of the baby for the first few month when it needs the utmost care. 

While in case of animals the role of father is limited. In case of civilized humans the role of father is also very important. 

In human beings there is a tendency to be attracted towards men and women other than one's married partner. This happens more in case of men. The reason for this can be understood from the fact that humans have actually evolved for animals. Our ancestors were animals.

Men can potentially be more adulterous than women because evolutionarily speaking a man can impregnate more than one woman in one year, the numbers can potentially go into hundreds. However a woman can become pregnant only once a year. 

In humans and other mammals there exists a bond of love between the mother and newborn. It is this emotion of love that makes the mother take care of the baby. However love is not limited to  mother and child , there is love between father and child, granny and grandsons and granddaughters. 

So it is clear that emotions and feeling have evolved with evolution of life on earth and the main reason for this is the smooth continuity and evolution of living beings. Take example of birds, how passionately they build their nests, take care of their eggs, feed and look after their young ones. The same is true in case of majority of life forms on earth. 

All of us have seen and experience that when we do something we love to, not only we are happy, but at the same time we do the work very efficiently as well. Its people's love for beauty that makes them build beautiful structures, roads, buildings, cities etc. In case of a soldier its his love for the nation( patriotism) that makes him risk his life to protect it.

Without love life would have existed, but it won't have evolved to the levels of humans or mammals . Hence in all spiritual and philosophical books love has been given great importance and even scientifically speaking it is a very vital emotion of life. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

GNU/LINUX in different shapes and sizes

GNU/LINUX is a Free Software. Free Software is not necessarily zero cost software. Free Software allows the user freedom to copy, modify and distribute the original and the modified versions of the software. This freedom has allowed developers across the world to work on GNU/LINUX, since the source code is easily available and the developers are legally allowed to modify the source code.

Over the years developers across the world have come up with different distributions of GNU/LINUX in all shapes and sizes. Users of propriety software like Windows or Macintosh do not have any freedom to modify the software, since the source code is not available at all. 

For Windows and Macintosh users, the hardware of your system has to be upgraded to the current standard to install the latest version of the Operating System. With GNU/Linux users can find a latest distribution that fits their hardware. 

Even if you have a Pentium 2 or a Pentium 3 computer you have Linux distributions like Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux that will fit your system requirements. In fact you can use Damn Small Linux even on a old i386 computer. 

If you have a 12 year old Pentium 4 computer, you can chose to install Lubuntu operating system which is a knocked down version of the most popular GNU/LINUX distro - Ubuntu for low power computers. For Raspberry Pi we have Pidora, Raspbian operating systems. They are Fedora and Debian operating systems optimised for the resources provided by Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is low cost computer made with the intention of popularising programming among school students. It has been a world wide superhit. Today various Raspberry Pi models are available between $5 to $35.

With operating systems like Windows and Macintosh your hardware becomes obsolete within a few years. However with GNU/Linux you are likely to find a distribution that support your hardware. This becomes possible only because GNU/Linux is a free software.

(I will expand this article soon.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

It is possible to live on Mars

Humans have this natural tendency of exploring new places. We evolved in Africa and slowly over a period of time explored and settles across the entire world. For the last 6 decades, humans have been exploring space. We have now managed to send spacecrafts across all the planets of solar system. It is very likely in some time humans are going to try and live in one of the planets. 

The planet that may be inhabited by the humans in the future is Mars. According to this ted talk it is possible for humans to go to Mars and survive there. Initially humans have to live controlled environment. Later on by Terra farming the planet, the conditions of Mars can be made suitable for human habitation without any need for any external devices like space suits or air chambers.

Currently the Martian atmosphere is primarily composed of carbon dioxide. It is 100 times thinner than earth. Mars contains friezed carbon dioxide in the poles. By focusing the sun rays on the frozen carbon dioxide with the help of solar sail the sold carbon dioxide can be sublimated into carbon dioxide gas. Over a period of time the atmosphere of Mars will become much thicker and warmer because carbon dioxide is a heat trapping gas. 

The temperature of Mars is very low. The global average temperature of Mars is -63 degree Celsius. As the proportion of carbon dioxide increased and the atmosphere becomes thicker, the planet will get a lot warmer. 1% to 60% of Martian soil comprises of water in frozen state. With increase in atmospheric temperature and rise in temperature this water will melt into liquid water. There would be water flowing across the surface of Mars in form of rivers, lakes etc. 

Then vegetation would grow on Mars and this plants along with micro-organisms like Algae from earth will work to convert the the carbon dioxide of Mars into oxygen. At that time farming can be done on Mars. Humans then would no longer depend on Earth for food.

The mentioned TED video also mentions that with knowledge of genetics we will able able to change our genes in such a way that we are able to self evolve ourselves to survived on Mars.  

There was a time when Mars had a much thicker. The thicker atmosphere of Mars resulted in presence of liquid water on the planet. There were rivers, deltas, lakes on Mars. However solar winds and weak magnetic field of Mars led to stripping away of the Martian atmosphere.

It is important that we the humans must make efforts to branch out to other planets. In case earth is hit by an asteroid, the entire human civilization may vanish without a trace. All the knowledge that we have gained over centuries would disappear. If the human race or variants of human race are spread over the entire cosmos, extinction in one planet won't lead to extinction of humanity.

Travelling to other planets and living in other planets has been a dream of humans. We are getting closer and closer to realizing our dreams.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Humans and Machines of the future - 1

Artificial Intelligence(AI) is a relatively new field of technology closely linked to computer science. In its short period of existence AI has progressed a lot. Initially AI was all about making computer solve mathematical problems and then make it speak a few words. 

By 1997, the technology was advanced enough to beat a reigning world chess champion, Gary Kasperov was beaten by IBM's the then supercomputer Big Blue. This year Google's AlphaGo beat a South Korean master of Go. The game of Go, played in South Korea, Japan and China is very complex and it has almost infinite number of potential configurations.

What took nature millions of years, in case of computers and robots we are able to do in a few decades. Robotics is closely linked to Artificial Intelligence. Robots are used in different industries to do routine manufacturing work. Robots are widely used in manufacture of electronics, automobiles, food packaging etc. There are robots in International Space Station that work as assistants of astronauts. Such rapid growth in AI, opens up lots of possibilities.

If the robot is a learning system,it would constantly evolve itself from experience. It would be possible to create robots that will create their copies, Self Replicating Robots. Robots are much better suited to survival in space and other planets as compared to humans.

So in the future, for space exploration all humans would need to do is send this highly intelligent robots on different planets and from the resources available there, they would create more robots. In this way these robots will fill the entire cosmos. 

These robots are going to send the all the information about the universe back to the earth. They will conduct all kinds of experiments as per the instructions provided to them or they may even use their own intelligence and experience to design the experiments. The rate at which AI has grown over the years, it is very much possible that artificial intelligence may surpass human intelligence. 

Computers are going to get faster and faster. Going by Moore's law every 18 to 24 months the processing power of microprocessors doubles. So in the next 20 years one can expect computers to have over 1000 times more processing power than the processors available today, in 40 years they will be a million times faster, in 60 years they will be more than a billion times faster, with a billion times more memory, a billion times more storage. Such high computing power can surely make robots more intelligent than humans. 

So are we the humans, prepared to let this intelligent machines become the more dominant life forms across the universe? Here lies a danger -- this advanced machines might make us slaves. Scientist Stephan Hawking has already warned about AI taking over humanity in the future. So what can humanity do to overcome a situation where it becomes a pet of the machine?

The answer many believe lies in becoming one with the machines. In other words man and machine will unite in the future. We will become half humans and half robots. The machine part of us will let us travel across different planets and stay there no matter what the temperatures or conditions may be. The human part of us will take advantage of the faculties of mind that is beyond logic like intuition, emotion etc. 

It is a very well known fact that genes control the physical, behavioural aspect of human beings. With better knowledge of genetics, the future humans may be far more advanced than the present day humans.

Even before we knew about the existence of genes or DNA humans were genetically modifying plants and animals. Many fruits, vegetable and crops that we see today have come into existence due to selective breeding done by humans.

Corn won't have existed the way it is, had it not been for humans. Many species of animals were created by humans by cross breeding species found in different geographical locations. 

The knowledge of genes can make this process faster and may help us take quantum leaps in the evolution of our and other species. It will be very interesting to see the final product that comes out when this advanced humans are integrated with advanced Artificially Intelligent machines.

The final outcome may be far beyond our imagination, we may end up being nothing but obsolete beings, like the primate that were the ancestors of today's monkeys and humans. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Humans, Robots and Humanoids

“Space the final frontier”, this are the words of the famous TV sitcom Star Trek. The TV programme was about a team of astronauts from earth on a mission to explore other planets around the universe. Probably in 1960s and 1970s people thought that the next big thing would be space travel and in a few decades people would be visiting other planets. 

However space travel is a great challenge. The human body is not fit to survive in space, it has to be encapsulated in a specialized suit that maintains the proper temperature and air pressure. In space there is no oxygen, so astronauts have to carry their own oxygen cylinders to space. It is a great challenge for the human body to survive in zero gravity of space. 

Physiological changes start to happen when humans go to space. In the absence of any gravity, the human body starts losing muscle very fast. Even eating food, urinating and defecating is challenging in the zero gravity environment in space. 

So the best contenders for space exploration are not humans but robots built by humans that can survive in those situations, they will produce their own energy from sunlight. These are going to be no ordinary robots. They will be learning, self improving and self replicating robots. 

In place of humans it will be the robots that would visit the various corners of the universe, make detailed study of the place and then come back to earth give the information to the humans. But humans can go one step further. Instead of robots, humans in the future can evolve themselves into humanoids by becoming half humans/half robots. 

The form of these humanoids will be such that they will be able to survive in any condition as robots. At the same time, being half humans,the humanoids will have the intelligence, intuition and innovation of human beings. It will also have the emotions and spirit of humans. 

Self replicating robots have tremendous potential, one transforms into two, two to four, four to eight. In this way over a period of time the cosmos would be full of robots from the earth, they will send information about other planets and galaxies to humanoids on earth.

Once humans and machines integrate, it will be possible for the newly formed humanoids to exist in space, it will be possible for humanoids to survive for long periods of time while travelling through space. Becoming humans to humanoids would be a great step of self evolution. From being earthly creatures we would become beings of the Universe. 

Many scientists like Sir Stephan Hawkings have warned that artificial intelligence may in the future overtake human beings. If this becomes true, then we would become creators of a species that will be way more powerful than us. Since the robots of the future are going to be self learning machines, they may evolve to other forms in the future. 

However it remains to be seen how intuition and emotions can be incorporated into a machine. Alternatively an intelligent machine may be able to acquire intuition and emotions during its evolution. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Gods or Aliens

Ancient cultures across the world talk about beings descending from the skies. Such stories exist in India, China, Egypt, Americas, Europe etc. Almost in every culture there is description of these beings possessing mythical powers, who came to our planet and taught humans. Ancient texts in the above mentioned countries are full of such descriptions. The ancient man thought that the being whom he interacted with was the creator, the GOD.

In India there are stories of sages meditating on some God till the god appears in front of the sage, he then gets a boon or some psychic power from that being. The scriptures say that the city of Dwarka, that is now submerged under water in the Gulf of Kutch was built by a god named Vishwakarma. There is mention of weapons that resembled bows and arrows but when fired they would emit powerful thunder and laser beams.

Now the question obviously rises, who are these beings that descended from the sky and what were the things that the ancient man saw? We know very well that bows and arrows cannot generate thunder by themselves. So what was it? Was it some other weapon that only had an external appearance of the bow and arrow? The weapon could not have originated on earth since the ancient man did not have the scientific and technological knowledge to build such a weapon. 

Again who were the beings who appeared before the people who meditated on them? How did the other worldy beings know about them. The answer that comes to the mind is, the being was from a technologically advanced civilization, which did not have any origin on earth. In other words Aliens.

If we consider the amount of scientific knowledge and technological development that we have achieved in the last 200 years, we will find that the growth has been exponential and not linear. So if we extrapolate this graph over a million years, we come to a conclusion that our knowledge of science and advancement in technology would be so high that we cannot even imagine.

If there is an alien race that is only a million years more advanced than us, then they would have the levels of knowledge and technology that we associate only with Gods. Today we have the technology to detect gravitational waves, at LIGO, the researchers were able to detect collision of two super massive black holes, that happened 1.3 billion years ago - with the help of gravitational waves. 

Similarly it is very much possible that the advanced alien races might be able to read our thought waves. So what has appeared before humans as Shiva, Krishna, Jesus etc., may be some beings from this highly advanced civilizations. While almost every civilization talks about God, it is observed that the form of God seems to be different. 

It is possible that the extraterrestrials took the form of the beings that humans imagine. Humans have begun understanding the universe only a few hundred years ago since the discovery of telescope. Prior to that, it was thought that the earth was at the centre of the universe - the sun, moon and other stars revolved around it. Hence it is very much possible that the extraterrestrials did not reveal the truths about them because the ancient man won't understand or believe them. Alternatively it is possible that they did reveal the truth but the ancient man did not understand it at all. 

Today we are beings of planet earth, but with the development in science and technology, in the future, we would colonise other planets and at that time, we would be technologically advanced enough to change our physical forms to adapt to conditions in space and other planets. In the future we may have robotic implants that would make us super humans and make us powerful enough to survive in space and other planets. 

The extraterrestrial beings, whom we call gods probably had this capabilities, since they evolved a million years(or earlier) before us. Looking in to the context of evolution, a million years is not a big number, today when a dinosaur egg is found, its existence is normally dated in ranges like 70 to 80 million years or 100 to 120 million years. So one million years is a small number, but species that have human like intelligence can do mind boggling things in a small period of a million years.

It is said that Sri Ramakrishna Parmhamsa, while performing his penance to see God, came to stage where he decided to severe his head off, at that time he got the vision of what he called "The Divine Mother". It maybe possible that the penance might have been detected by some alien species and the vision of the so called Divine Mother was an effect of some alien technology. The knowledge he received might have come from some extraterrestrial sources.

Later when Ramakrishna met Narendranath Dutta(who later went on to become Swami Vivekananda) the various mythical experiences that Naren and his mates had was probably the work of aliens whom they misunderstood as God. 

So you see in this article I have not denied that unusual or so called mythical experiences documented by several people. However the explanation that I have given over here is on the basis of observances and possibilities.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How Science and Technology can be a double edged sword

Science is a double edged sword. Science and technology opens up a wonderful world of opportunities to humanity. However the knowledge should be used wisely. Not only we require good scientific brains, who can do research, find new things about nature and use the knowledge to build gadgets and devices. We also require leaders with compassionate and sensitive hearts as well. 

Science and Technology has been used to make our lives better. However there is one negative side to it as well. The same knowledge that makes machinery and other sources of energy can be used to create massively powerful destructive weapons. 

The pre historic man, who lived in the caves used to fight with other tribes with his bare hands or used stones. As he started developing weapons - bow and arrows, swords, spears etc came into existence, which were more lethal. Once civilization came into existence countries started maintaining armies. They would attack each other from time to time to expand their borders. 

Then the technology of guns and cannons came into existence which made wars more destructive. Far greater number of people started dying in wars than earlier. However human greed for power knew no borders, the technology to build more powerful weapons kept improving. Wright Brothers invented the plane for humans to travel in air, however the same planes were used in the first world war to throw bombs on different countries. 

The First world War(1914-1918) created great scale of destruction and devastation. However at the end of the first world war, the Treaty of Versailles sowed the seeds of the second world war. It is because of the First World War that dictators like Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy came to power. 

The twenty year gap between the two world wars was just used to to upgrade weapons technology and prepare for the next war. The Second World War(1938-1945) was even more destructive. Millions of people lost their lives. The scale of devastation that happened in the Second World War was never seen before by humanity. Directly and indirectly over 80 million people lost their lives in the Second World War. 

The Second World War ended with US dropping the most powerful weapon mankind had built till then. USA bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with two nuclear bombs named 'Little Boy' and 'Fatman' respectively. Never before in the history of mankind has such a powerful weapon been used. We thought the existence of such weapons were limited to the pages of mythology, but now we actually saw one being used. 

Little Boy Killed all 20,000 Japanese soldiers along with 50,000 other civilians. Around 70,000 more civilians were badly injured. At that time, the city of Hiroshima just had a population of only 330,000 people. Now consider this facts 'Little Boy' was a highly inefficient nuclear bomb. It carried 64 kg of Uranium but  around 1.7% of the Uranium contributed to the energy produced. 

The energy released was around 16 kilotons of TNT. This was 71 years ago, after that USA, Russia, China, France, UK, India and Pakistan have done nuclear tests of weapons that released far greater amounts of energy. The most powerful nuclear weapon was tested by Russia, 'The Tzar Bomba', the energy released by it was 50,000 kilotons of TNT  or in other words the bomb had the power of over 3125 atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. 

While energy from fission and fusion promises to be great source of energy for humanity, if used in war nuclear energy will surely be the cause of end of humanity. We will be extinct, in the same way as dinosaurs became extinct from earth. 

Even after the second world war there was a race between capitalism and socialism, between democracy and communism. USA and USSR were competitors of each other. While USA was a democracy and a cradle of capitalism. USSR followed communism and socialism.

A situation of Cold War prevailed between the two countries. The two nations were developing their nuclear arsenals very fast. There were times when the two nations came close to being at war. The war itself would have devastated the world. 

Although the threat of Cold War veered off with the partition of USSR into Russia and other nations. The effects of animosity between the two superpowers of the world are felt even now.

When Russia invaded Afghanistan, USA supported Taliban. Taliban - Al Qaeda became a big terrorist organisation, that did terrorist attacks across the world including the 9/11 attacks on the New York, World Trade Center.

Taliban had actually seized power form the hands of the ruling government in Afghanistan and ruled Afghanistan for many years, they were a bunch of religious extremists who enforced strict medieval laws in the country. Women were forced to wear burkha, men had to keep a beard. Public killings were common in Afghanistan. 

After 9/11 USA attacked Afghanistan in search of Osama Bin Laden, they were able to liberate Afghanistan from Taliban's regime however even now terrorist attacks are very common in that country done by followers of Taliban. Afghanistan was once a very liberal Muslim nation, it is now one of the most backward and poor nation in the world. 

After the Korean War, Korea spilt into two parts - North Korea and South Korea. South Korea sided with democratic US. While North Korea went with communist Russia and China. In the 1950s, USSR trained North Korean nuclear scientists.

The result, North Korea, in spite of being the poorest nation in the world has managed to build nuclear weapons and has done around 4 nuclear tests since 2006. North Korea has been ruled by dictators. The North Korean public has no access to amenities that modern world enjoys. They don't have electricity, they don't have television, they don't have Internet. 

The are brainwashed into thinking that their leader is god and anything their leader says should be followed. The North Korean government has isolated its people from the rest of the world. If anyone does not do what their government orders, the person is killed. 

Not only this, North Korea has access the long range intercontinental ballistic missiles, which it has probably got from China. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such a crazy leader is a threat to entire humanity. 

One simply hopes that countries around the world work to neutralize the threat generated by these evil forces, so that humanity uses Science and Technology in a positive way. Knowledge should be used to make human lives better and happier not for war and destruction. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Solar power - Growth in production

In the last 3 to 5 years the cost of production of solar energy has come at par with traditional sources of energy. It is the reason why we are now able to see the exponential rise in solar energy production across the globe. 

The world leader in solar power production is Germany. Germany has installed around 39 gigawatts of solar power. During the year 2010,2011 and 2012 -- Germany annually installed 7 Gigawatts of solar power per annum. 

However recent data indicates that China has just surpassed Germany with an installed solar power capacity of 43.2 gigawatts. In 2011 China added 2.5 GW, in 2012 5 GW, in 2013 9.5 GW, in 2014 10.56 GW and in 2015 15.13 GW of solar power capacity was installed in China. 

In India where the installed solar power capacity was only 160 MW in 2010, today we have over 5 GW of Solar Power. In the last one year approximately 2.5 GW of solar power installation has been done in India and this will go up. 

So since the time prices of solar panels came to a reasonable level, countries around the world including India are tapping into the the vast amounts of available solar energy. India in particular gets tremendous amount of sunlight and in the future will be one of the biggest producers of solar power. 

This above numbers tell us why the prices of crude oil has come down. India gets far greater amounts of sunlight than Germany. India should produce more solar power than Germany.With development of cheaper and better energy storage technologies like ultra capacitors, people would start moving off grid, they would generate their own electricity. 

Solar power can potentially save our planet from all the pollution that is generated by combustion of fossil fuels. One just hopes that the exponential growth in production of solar power and installation of solar power plants across the world continues, along with increase in utilization of more energy efficient electrical appliances. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The future of space exploration

3D printers can make complex objects. In the future this technology will definitely improve, now let us imagine this, we have robot of the future which is capable of 3D printing and this robot which is way more intelligent than current robots, is able to 3D print its own replica. This robot is more intelligent than the robots we have today, the robots of the future are going to be self learning systems, they would learn from their own experience, just like us. 

So we launch a robotic spacecraft and the robot goes to a distant planet. With the materials available there it creates its replica. It designs and creates machines along with other newly made robots. This machines are able to extract resources from the planet like fuel, iron ore etc. The machines are used to build factories and more machines are made by the robots to build better processors and increase memory to upgrade themselves and build spacecraft to come back to earth. 

In the future it would be possible to have powerful robots like these that can bring an asteroid near the earth's orbit and set its orbit. They can build a factory in space that would produce different material sourced from asteroids and other planets. The will send us whatever products we need by producing them in those space factories. The source of energy for them would be solar power that they would harness from the sun. 

Robots are going to be our future exploration devices. Currently scientists in NASA are working on a technology that would use lasers to accelerate a spacecraft to very high speeds. The energy that is produced from solar energy is used to create the laser beams that would the be focused on a sail of the spacecraft. 

Each photon that bounces off the sail would impart some momentum to spacecraft. When a very huge number of them bounce off the the sail a significant amount of acceleration is generated. When the spacecraft is accelerated over great lengths of time very high speeds can be generated. 

According to NASA scientist Philip Lubin the spacecraft can go as fast as 30% of the speed of light.  He says that with this technology a 100 kilo spacecraft will reach Mars in 3 days. This technology will also cut the propellant requirement. Currently a space launch vehicle's mass at launch time is 70% propellant. Propellant not only comprises of fuel but it also has oxidiser since there is no oxygen in space. 

So it is clear that in the future better propulsion technology along with robotonics, artificial intelligence, faster data transfer and 3D printing will determine our future of space exploration.

With these technologies it would be possible for us to build planets that would have the same rotational path of earth, the raw materials for the planets will be sourced by these robots from astreiods and other distant planets, these planets will be new homes for humans in the future. The only thing we need to make sure is that we should not let robots take over us. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Human Evolution

Human beings are intelligent thinking beings. Our brains have evolved our millions of years of evolution. Life evolved on earth beginning from a single cell organism to complex organisms like us. When we use the term complex organism it does not necessarily mean biggest in term of physical size. The largest organisms ever to walk on this planet were dinosaurs that were as heavy as 60 to 100 tonnes and measured over 50 meters in length. In terms of size we are 1000 times smaller than them.

However their brains were much smaller than us. They were nowhere near our level of mental development. No other animal comes even close to human beings when it comes to the ability to think, create, imagine, design, feel, express etc. No other animals makes tools for themselves except the humans. 

Humans have evolved rapidly. Just around 10,000 years ago most humans used to live in jungle and they would hunt animals to feed themselves. At that time the tools they had were weapons made of stone and wood. With the rapidly developing brain they discovered that by sowing seeds of plants in the ground they can make the plants grow at places they want. This reduced human dependence on hunting for food and human beings started agriculture. 

As they practised agriculture they started sowing the best seeds that they can find. Selective breeding is responsible for many of the food stuff that we eat today, you can go to this link and find how some of the commonly used grains, vegetable and fruits looked a few centuries ago and how selective breeding done by us has changed them. 

From building simple tools for self usage, humans developed more complex tools. Beginning with simple machines humans were able to develop more and more complex machines that would run on power provided by humans or animals. Then later on windmill and waterwheel were made, which ran on wind and flowing water. 

After that development in science and technology led to discovery of the power of steam and humans started using steam, it was made by boiling water using coal. Steam was used to drive different machinery and locomotives. After that electricity was discovered and it was generated in enough quantity to power homes and industry, the steam engines were replaced by machinery running on electricity.

Similarly giant advances were made in electronics, computer science and information technology. This lead to entire world being better connected. Just 20 years ago one had to rely on letter to communicate with people living overseas. Land line telephones were there but call rates back then were prohibitively expensive. Today thanks to the internet people living on any part of the globe can instantly communicate with each other using various free video conferencing services available on the internet. It costs nothing except one needs to pay his monthly broadband bill.

Human intelligence is constantly expanding and it is expanding at a very fast rate. The rate of innovation and invention has gone up. For humans evolution is not about physical growth, it is not about becoming dinosaurs or becoming bigger than dinosaurs. But if you observe human behaviour it is always guided by his curiosity in nature. Our desire to know about the various aspects of nature leads to discoveries. It also leads to increase in knowledge and using this knowledge we are able to make different tools, vehicles, machines etc. 

Above all animals humans have this quest of knowledge that makes him stand apart from all other animals on earth. In the future humans will be the first and only organisms from planet earth that would make homes in other planets. Maybe by then we would have developed technology to genetically modify ourselves to beings who can exist in any condition. 

Human knowledge and innovation can do things that one can't even imagine.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Number Systems

Decimal Numbers

In practice we use a number system called decimal number system. In the decimal number system there are 10 numbers that we use 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Using this ten numbers we can show any decimal value that we want to. Consider the number 251, we can describe it as
251= 2X(10^2)+5X(10^1)+1X(10^0) =(2X100)+(5X10)+10X1=200+50+1

So you can see that as we move from right to left in a number, for each position the power increases by one. Let us consider a few more examples
62= (6X10^2)+(2X10^0)=60+2

Other number systems

In addition to the decimal number system there can be multiple different types of number system depending on number of literals that we want to use to describe a number.

In the hexadecimal number system in addition to the then literals 0...9 we also use the literals a,b,c,d,e,f. For the decimal number system this numbers correspond to a=10, b=11, c=12, d=13, e=14, f=15.

So (f)16=(15)10

If we want to convert a hexadecimal number to a decimal number, the method we need to follow is this:-

Consider and hexadecimal number (f2a)16 . Now let us convert this number into a decimal number


Now we know that a=10 and f=15. Hence the above equation becomes:


Now to convert 3882 back to its hexadecimal form this what we will do.


Reminder 10=f

Reminder 2

reminder 15=f

so the hexadecimal number become (f2a)16

In this way we can create any number system that we want to. We can even use an octadecimal number system by just increasing two more number, we can denote them as g and h, where g=16 and h=17.

Computers that we use today process the numbers as binary digits 0 or 1.

The decimal 5 is expressed as 101. Similarly (7)10=(111)2

Suppose there is a binary number 11001, this is how we find its decimal value.

We will move from right to left and keep increasing the power of 2 for each position. So


Thursday, February 18, 2016


If you live in a location where you have lots of ice all year round then you can try mixing water with sawdust and then freeze the mixture. The proportion should be 86% water by weight and 14% sawdust by weight. Which means that if you want 1 kg of the mixture you need to mix 140 grams of sawdust with 860 grams of water. When the mixture freezes the product you will get is almost as hard as concrete, it is called Pycrete. 

Pycrete is much harder than ice and it melts much slower than ice. On a hot summer day 1 cubic foot ice can melt into water in an hour. However a block of pycrete of equivalent size will take many days to melt.

It also takes more time to freeze the water and sawdust mixture to make Pycrete. The reason why Pycrete melts slowly and also why pycrete forms at a slower rate as compared to ice  is due to presence of wood particles, wood is a bad conductor of heat. In parts of the world where there is snow all around the year, people can use structures created out of Pycrete.

If we want to create man made structures in Antarctica, we can very well use Pycrete to create replicas of structures like Taj Mahal, Pyramids, Sphinx, White House etc out of Pycrete, since the temperature in Antarctica always remains below freezing point this structures will never melt. 

In Antarctica people can replace ice with Pycrete to build igloos. Their homes will be stronger because Pycrete is stronger as compared to ice. 

Pycrete was named after Geoffrey Pyke, an English journalist and an inventor. During the second world war he and his team discovered the properties of a frozen mixture of water and sawdust. He wanted to build a giant aircraft carrier out of pycrete, however the project never took off. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


All of us have used pencil for writing. The pencil's lead contains graphite. The molecular structure of graphite has one carbon atom bonded to three other carbon atoms in one plane, forming an hexagonal array of carbon atoms per layer(Figure). Layer after layers of such planes are stacked over one another and each carbon atom, the forces between the layers are weak, that's why they are quite slippery and used in pencils. 

So when we write using the pencil, some layers are deposited on the paper. However till recently it was difficult to separate a single layer. Hence we were not able to extract graphene for a long period of time. 

Now that we have graphene, we have discovered wonderful properties processed by it. It is a superconductor which means it conducts electricity with very little resistance. It is 100 times stronger than steel. 

Scientists are looking forward to use Graphene as the material for supercapacitor. The supercapacitor will replace lithium ion batteries in the future and the would charge up very fast. The supercapacitors will be cheaper and provide an ideal energy storage solution for electric cars, offgrid solar powered homes etc. 

Honeycomb Lattice of Graphene.

Scientists are exploring ways to do different things with graphene according to this article, scientists have managed to make lens from graphene so thin that its thickness is 300 times less than the thickness of paper. With this lens it is possible to have data communications at the speed of light. 

This lens can also be used in nanosatellites that would reduce weight and focus better on earth. The lens weighs about 1 microgram. 

Microprocessors made from silicon and germanium have almost reached their highest possible clock speeds. Increasing clockspeed of microprocessors will result in heating and melting of the tiny circuits. In the future graphene is expected to solve this problem. Microprocessors made from graphene will not melt, even at very high clock speeds. So we can have even more faster processors in the future. 

Recently researchers at University of Glasgow have produced the material at a 100 times lesser cost, making graphene cheaper and increasing its potential usage in different different feilds . Scientists have also made a nanometre thick graphene film. It can absorb 95% of the light incident on it, making it the most light absorbent material on earth.