Sunday, January 29, 2012

Digging Deep

Geologists have a fairly accurate idea about the structure and composition of the earth’s interior. It is several thousand miles to the actual center of the earth. In comparison to the deeper layers inside the earth’s interior, namely, the mantle and the outer and inner core which extend a few thousand miles in depth, the outermost layer or the earth’s crust is not more than 30 miles in depth. Sending a man made object to the center of the earth is in the realm of science fiction. No man made object has ever penetrated beyond the earth’s crust. An ambitious drilling project several decades ago by the Soviets was stopped after reaching just over 7 miles into the earth’s crust. An inhospitable climate of heat and pressure may deter future attempts to get even deeper.

A classic science fiction novel written in the 1800s by Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth, is an adventurous story of a professor and his nephew who find an ancient map that guides them to the center of the earth through a volcanic tube. The obstacles, difficulties and the unexpected wonders the two adventurers face could be construed as allegorical references to our own mental journey to the core of our being. Just as we have not made it, as yet, to the center of the earth, there are no scientifically proven first person accounts of people finding the soul, which could be thought of as the fundamental basis for human life. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stress and the heart

Stress is commonplace, especially in these challenging times. Repeated bouts of stress can have lasting effects on the body. Brief interludes of relaxation help the body recover from stress. The human heart, the seat of emotion, is Ever in MOTION. Due to this perpetual motion of the heart day and night, the effects of repeated bouts of stress on the heart may impact our longevity. The heart has spare capacity to increase its workload in times of stress. This happens through certain chemical messengers, such as adrenaline, that signal the heart muscle to work harder. The heart has plenty of receptors, or parking bays, for these messengers. Just as a factory may increase its production in response to a demand by increasing its workforce and by expanding the assembly line, the human heart is a factory that has the ability to increase production of a vital product, oxygen rich blood. Chemical messengers like adrenaline are the workforce that drive the heart to pump more blood to meet the higher metabolic demands placed on the body by stress. An easily quantifiable measure of this increased workload is a higher heart rate and a higher blood pressure. Just like an earthquake that starts deep underground and damages buildings on the surface many miles from its epicenter, this higher blood pressure that originates in the heart may cause damage in other organs such as the brain potentially resulting in a stroke. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Time, Money and Fulfillment

Since the dawn of civilization, exchange of goods and services has been a tool for growth. Prior to the advent of money, the value of this exchange of resources was informally set in the barter system. At some point, the concept of money then took over, attaching a certain monetary value to our daily economic transactions. Over the last several thousand years, the material form of money has evolved from cattle, grain, shells, metal coins, leather notes, gold, paper notes to the present day electronic money.

Although the bartering system is for all practical purposes non existent in the modern day world, this concept is a recurring theme in our mind and thoughts. At the level of the mind, we are constantly trying to barter for happiness by jumping from thought to thought in the hopes of finding one that fulfills this need. We also “barter” our time for money that we earn by working and in turn “barter” this money for happiness in the form of physical comforts. The sense of happiness relative to time and money is a moving target. Money may buy an object that brings happiness today, that same object may become a source of misery in the the future. Just as wishing for money does not make one rich, wishing for happiness does not necessarily make one happy.