10 January 2015

New Worlds - Short Story

"We have been watching Earth for years now. Seen them evolve from mindless apes to a civilized race of living beings" said Calder. 
"Yes but look at them now, fighting over divisions that they have created among themselves. Race, religion, wealth, ethnicity etc. It's ridiculous. Our race is so much more civilized and advanced compared to them. There's nothing we can learn from them; only they can learn from us. But they are not as advanced to communicate or even locate us in the Universe." replied Tadeas. 
"That is not the point of observing them. They are the only other living beings in our known universe. It is comforting to know we are not alone. Our race is much more advanced, yes, but that is because we are a much older planet. Their planet is young, their resources are sufficient. Calder and Tadeas were students who would one day lead Craeura and their citizens. 

YEAR 2169:
"Space exploration is the next leap for mankind. We are here in an age of fear and curiosity. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds. We could not have imagined that man could set foot on the moon 200 years ago. But we did it and here we are setting out to go further than we ever have before." said the President. "From learning how to paint on cave walls to now setting out on our quest for knowledge. We as humans have come a long way. We choose to do what is hard, we choose a challenge that propels us as a race. This mission is a collective effort of every country on Earth. Every man, woman and child have contributed towards this. This is the most dangerous, daring and greatest adventure of which man has ever embarked." 

The crowds cheered as the large screens now showed the view of the large spaceship. Men and Women of every race & religion stood by to watch this great event unfold. Today, they stand as humans, not divided by any categorization whatsoever. "Stand by for lift off" said an electronic voice inside the astronaut's helmet. The mission was to set out on a journey to the stars to find solar systems with planets that had Earth-like qualities that could sustain life. A team of 30 members, the best in their discipline picked to take the next big step for mankind. The alarm rang to inform all personnel to stand by at their respective stations. "Lift off in 10.. 9.." the voice began counting down. Crowds on every major city gathered to watch on their television screens to see the spectacle. "5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. Lift off!" said the TV presenter. The crowds roared with joy as the spaceship ascended into the heavens.

"It is happening!" cried Calder. "Get our children to the bunker. I'll be down soon." 
Calder as President of Craeura, had to make a speech first to inform the nation that Doomsday was upon them. That hope was not lost but that everyone must find shelter and go to their bunkers which were specifically designed by the scientists to withstand the explosion that would be created by the impact. "Citizens of Craeura, do not be afraid. We all knew this day would come and we have prepared ourselves well for it. Follow the procedures in your survival bunkers. If all goes well, I will see you again once this has passed." 

Calder was rushed to the bunker by the security personnel. Inside his wife and children were waiting huddled up together. "It'll be okay" he said to his children whose faces were heavy with confusion and fear. "I promise" he said even though he knew he really could not keep that promise. Nobody knew what would happen. Nobody could predict anything because they did not know any living beings surviving an asteroid impact so large. Earth's early living beings were wiped out in similar circumstances hundreds of years ago. Calder held his wife's hand and embraced his children with his other hand. 

The asteroid also brought with thousands of smaller rocks that hurtled down first, crashing into anything and everything that existed. Calder watched his monitor screen which showed various parts of the city. People who did not get to a safe place were hit by the boulders and squished. Vehicles and buildings exploded. It dawned upon Calder that the bunkers were not going to be enough to withstand this. They were not going to survive it. It was the end of their world as they knew it. 

Time seemed to slow down as the tip of the asteroid made contact with the surface. The large rock seemed to fuse into Craeura as a ring of fire emerged from the impact, expanding outwards, growing larger and larger. Calder closed his eyes and hugged his children tighter as if to suffocate them. Minutes later, the planet stood still. Not an organism moved because there was not an organism left to move. Everything had perished and the land was barren, rid of all buildings. So empty that it seemed like nothing remotely living ever existed. 

On Spaceship 1: 
"Sir, you need to see this. Our detectors have picked up a signal. It's not from Earth..." said John. 
Captain Russell studied the readings with furrowed brows. He was not yet considering the possibility of aliens, for all it mattered he was not the speculative type. "Can we trace it?" he asked after a long pause. "I can try" replied John. 
The ship's thrusters rattled with power as she prepared for warp drive. The crew of 30 representing mankind was about to begin something that would carry on for generations and generations. And if they were successful, it would be a victory for humanity as a whole. The moment was certainly overwhelming. 

Dust swirled in miniature tornadoes as a gust of wind blew by. Clouds dark and heavy loomed in the distance ready to break out into a storm. Water droplets started falling from the clouds, wetting the dirt, turning to mud. Far away in the distance, a tiny object appeared. It moved closer and closer towards the planet, turning to avoid the storm and land safely. The spaceship entered the atmosphere and thrusters reversed their direction to counter the gravity of Craeura. 

YEAR C.984:
He put his one eye to the looking device while closing the other. His face filled with curiosity and confusion.
"We have been watching Earth for years now. Seen them evolve from mindless apes to a civilized race of living beings" he said...

29 December 2014

Intelligence Quotient

I was reading "A Song for Selma" by Kurt Vonnegut the other day where a group of school teachers discover that a certain pupil is a genius and so encourage him to do better, while another dumb pudgy boy is criticized for his stupidity. In my previous blog posts, I've discussed how nature and nurture shapes us into the individuals that we are today and will become in the future. So this brings us to the question of what is intelligence

Granted that we have all heard of the IQ test and how it determines how smart a person is but we have to keep in mind that the test itself was created by a group of human beings who are prone to bias and would think in a certain way. There is the very clear distinction between Arts and Science but a person skilled in the Science discipline maybe bad at art and vice versa. So if you were to judge him from an Arts perspective he wouldn't be brilliant whereas from a Science perspective he could be a genius. We only know the I.Q of the most brilliant minds in the field of Science, Stephen Hawking for example. But does that go to say that someone like Michael Angelo was not very intelligent? Today paintings that look like they could have been done by a 3 year old seem to sell for millions of dollars because the buyer sees it as a genius' work. 

Survey's have shown that teachers expect a child who is physically more attractive to perform better and will be biased towards that child and push him/her to perform better. So if nurture does play a bigger part than nature, then that means that subconsciously we are hindering the performance of a child just because "he does not seem to be the type that does well" etc. So not having a clear distinction then leads to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Proposed by Howard Gardner, it consists of 8 abilities that a certain individual could be categorized into. Again, humans and our need to categorize...

So really there is no way to tell if an individual is actually intelligent or how intelligent he is. Everybody is in their own way some form of intelligent, the idea is to find and nurture that ability. Find something you like and are good at and stick with it.

The famous Albert Einstein quote comes to mind; "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid".

10 October 2014

Crimson Sky

Helicopters flew across the sky covered with black clouds that hung like a disease over the city. Police and ambulance sirens blaring as they rushed past the emptied apartments. Rats, cockroaches, humans running haphazardly down the streets; all fleeing, fleeing from doom, from death. Many took the moment to hastily take whatever they could from the nearby shops; thieves, employees all the same. Thick black smoke emanated from the buildings as they crumbled under the heat. Nobody was trying to be a hero, nobody could. When basic primal instincts take over, the scared and frightened animal runs. And they all ran together, blindly not knowing where they were going or what they were fleeing from. 

"Honey get in the car! We don't have time to take anything. Just get in."
"Okay seat belt Abbey... and you too Nate" 
"Daddy, I'm scared. I don't wanna go!" 
"Shhh sweetheart it's gonna be fine okay. I promise. Just let Daddy drive" 

The skies became angry and the red smog crept in blanketing the city; inch by inch. Screams of men and women echoed through the streets as they were engulfed by whatever was behind the smog. 
"The day has come! This is the beginning of the End! Confess, confess now dear children!" shouted the old man as he walked along the pavement waving the bell in his hand. Ash rained down from the buildings all around as flocks of birds covered the sky. 

He switched gears and pressed down on the accelerator. 
"Just hold on okay. We don't have full gas but it should be enough to get us out of the city" 
She grabbed his arm while clutching the baby's head with the other. He looked at her and she at him, they knew. They knew just getting out of the city wasn't going to be enough to get away from it all. 
Explosions now shook the ground as the car swerved to avoid them. The underground pipes burst and the road ahead started to collapse. The frightened screams of the children filled the car. Tears broke from the eyes of the mother as she held her baby close to her chest. 

Finally they had reached the bridge. There was a glimmer of hope, maybe they would make it out alive. A great ball of fire hurtled down from the sky, the wings of the plane were still visible through the flames. 
"Peter! Watch out!" 
The plane came crashing down on to the bridge and went straight through it. A loud hiss went through the air as the burning plane sunk down into the river. The bridge was torn right through. Peter knew there was no way they would be able to make that jump, the car was too heavy and the hole was too large. The car rolled to a stop to the edge of the hole. 

Peter repeatedly punched the steering wheel, shouting. Mary grabbed his arm again trying to calm him down. "Peter stop..." her voice was low and soft. Tears rolled down her cheek, she had accepted it was over. They removed the seat belt and got out. The crimson smog was now at the bridge creeping closer and closer. They looked up to see Death inching towards them. Nate held Peter's hand, Abbey held Peter's and Mary's and Mary clutched little Martin...

1 August 2014


Omega, the last letter in the Greek alphabet and usually associated with the end of something. We have this tendency to not notice something good till its gone. So naturally when something gets over or is lost we usually don't know what to do without it. For a period of time after it is gone, we feel its absence, learn to accept it and then move on. Some of us take longer and some take no time at all.

The thing is, we as a species have always adapted to change, and ironically change is one of the only constants, the other being time. Nothing stays the same, and the end of something is just another form of change (if it wasn't obvious enough). Though unlike some changes are easier to cope with, this one in particular can mess with us quite a bit, considering the fact that it may never happen again. This leads to depression in many cases. The end of certain things just pass by, and we don't even notice, like when a day ends, or when a minute passes. Although, this negligence only takes place when we're occupied with something else and 'don't have the time for it' (sound familiar?). Or, when we know it might just happen again, if not the same event or incident, which may also have been planned out. Sort of cyclical. As I mentioned earlier, the end of something does affect us.
The way it affects us also depends on how prepared we are to face it, just like any other situation. If we know something is going to end, we may try to prepare ourselves for it. On the other hand if the end is unanticipated, it may hit us quite hard. For example, the end of a relationship would be abrupt in several cases and most people end up in serious depression. Whereas, the end of school would be anticipated and so some of us are able to understand this and prepare ourselves for it. On a lighter note when most good movies end, we feel delighted and compliment the movie. Taking this example lets look at "the end" from another angle.
We've heard ourselves say, "I'm glad that's over!" at several points in time. Obviously what this means is that, the termination of something has positive effects. Microscopically speaking, the end of the week brings a bit of happiness due to the fact that we can rest after a week full of work. Macroscopically speaking, the end of a war brings hope and happiness all over the affected regions. One thing common between these two examples is that the happiness comes from the fact that there's the expectation to do the things that would not have been possible without closing the previous chapter. This emphasises the cyclical nature of the world.
In conclusion, think of all the feats that can be achieved after the omega, this will keep us motivated. To put it simply, keep moving forward.

11 April 2014

Meaning of Life - Part 2

When pondering over the meaning of something we are clearly searching for evidences that lead us to conclude that that something is meaningful or holds meaning. If so, then we are actually asking if life is meaningful. Which means that for life to be meaningful there has to be a certain criteria but once again like all things that are of a philosophical nature, there are no set rules, no set criteria. What determines the meaningfulness of life? Go to school, study well, get a job, be successful, have lots of money. Does that mean your life is meaningful? or would you rather be free, own a farm out in the countryside and live off the land? Being human beings we tend to think of only ourselves. We have to realize that life is in every single living being. It isn't just us who live is it?

The animals that live their lives, they hunt, they mate, reproduce, fight for their territory. What would make their life meaningful? Of course there is the fact that they do not comprehend philosophy and would not think as much as we humans do. But truth of the matter is that they also have lives and when talking about the meaning of life, then we should also be considering the meaning of life as a whole; not just meaning of life pertaining to human beings. They live because they are alive, not for any other reason. Only humans try to lead a life that means anything or try to find meaning in living. In many ways that becomes our hubris.
Many a times, we tend to confuse the meaning of life with the purpose of life. Meaning is the value that we associate with life while purpose is what we do unto others or ourselves that in turn makes our life hold a value. So then, let us take that approach; let's try and find the meaning of life through the purpose of life.

 If you have read some of my previous posts, there is one named "Happiness". The purpose of every man in life is to attain a state of happiness, there could be different ways of obtaining it but the crux of all that we do boils down to happiness. We help others because that makes us happy, we buy an item of luxury that makes us happy and so on. So if the purpose of life for all of us is to be happy; then can that mean that the value of somebody's life be measured in the amount of happiness that they possess. But that again raises some problems does it not? Firstly, there is no measurement of happiness as such. We can't really gauge how happy a person is. Secondly, there is the problem of when exactly are we measuring the happiness of an individual. There are so many stages in life and if the only thing that is common to us in life is being born and dying, then that means that the only time that we could ever measure the meaningfulness of life of an individual is when he is dead because obviously a new born does not yet understand life or for that matter anything that is happening around him.

That which unites us all becomes the factor that determines the meaning of life. When we are all staring at the face of death, we are united and we look back to think whether we have fulfilled the purpose of life; whether we are truly happy. And when in my mind, if I think I am happy and have fulfilled the purpose of life; then I alone for that moment am the man with the most meaningful life in the world and would gladly accept death.