Sunday, August 21, 2016

Life in numbers

Life may be measured qualitatively or quantitatively. We can choose to look at the passage of time in terms of minutes, hours, days, months or decades. In critical situations we are forced to mark the passage of time in terms of seconds and minutes. However, for the most past, we push the thought of time into the background as if the the steady loss of this precious resource is a faraway fantasy. By looking at life qualitatively, the importance of time becomes real in every moment, not just when its finitude becomes apparent through circumstances beyond one’s control. Life is numbered from day zero of our existence and we have the freedom to spend our time joyfully or riddled with fear and anxiety. Time does not treat anyone preferentially based on how one uses that valuable resource. In the eyes of time, all are equal. This very moment runs concurrently for everyone whether or not we are aware of it; and whether one is awake, sleeping or dreaming.

Indian Independence

It has now been 70 years since India attained her independence from British rule. At that time, many small kingdoms had to be brought under one umbrella for the nation to take shape. It can be said that the heart of India was born when independence was achieved in 1947. But the soul of India has been in existence for thousands of years, since the ancient Vedic times. Indian culture has always espoused unity amidst diversity. Every living creature lives in and shares a heavenly space between the earth and the sky. Why is this space heavenly? It is because it nurtures and sustains all life forms without preference for one over another. Beyond the sky, outer space is hostile to life as we know it. We are indeed very lucky that we have this rare chance of being witness to the wonders of the universe from such a comfortable and beautiful place we call earth.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Mind: Full of preservatives

The origins of modern day “instant” digital photography are buried in antiquity. The earliest forms employed a pinhole camera, also called camera obscura (Latin for dark room). A basic pinhole camera is a box with a tiny aperture that lets in light, which falls on the opposite wall creating an inverted image of the object that was illuminated. Later, glass lenses replaced the pinholes. The 10th century Arab physicist, Ibn al-Haytham is credited with the invention of the world’s first pinhole camera. The principles of camera obscura were initially described by the ancient Greeks and the Chinese. In the 1820s, Nicéphore Niépce employed the phenomenon of camera obscura and captured the world’s first photographic record. The next big revolution was color photography and more recently digital photography. The first photograph took several several days of exposure. These days, we can take several photographs in a fraction of a second using our smart phones. Our eyes are the best examples of pinhole cameras. In fact, camera obscura was the model for the human eye as described by Leonardo Da Vinci.  René Descartes extended this to the eye and the mind. Although the human eye is a prototypical pinhole camera bringing in information to the brain, the other four senses also bring in “images” of the world around us in the form of sensory input that can be analysed and interpreted by the mind.