2013, Jan 14    

So, here I am going to share some of the things I learned last week and think you might find them intellectually stimulating and/or thought provoking and/or mere interesting regardless of your area of interest, expertise etc. I promise to keep the discussion here brain-friendly so that the topics here can travel through the neural pathways of your brain smoothly.

1. Night sky after thousands of years: Have you ever heard of expanding universe theory? If not, don’t worry. It might sound a bit geeky but it’s not that difficult to comprehend. According to this theory, our universe is expanding, that means the distance between any two given astronomical objects is always increasing. For instance, let’s say in 2013, the distance between Galaxy X and Galaxy Y is 500 light year (light year is just a distance measurement unit like km, mile etc.). Now after 1000 years (in 3013), following this expanding universe theory the distance between those two same Galaxies (Galaxy X and Galaxy Y) will be perhaps 1500 light year (where as now in 2013 its just 500 light year)!

No, expanding universe is not the thing that I learned for the first time last week. What I learned new about expanding universe is the fact that, the rate of the increase of this expansion is also increasing! Let me clarify. In our previous Galaxy X and Y example, in 1000 years (from 2013 to 3013) the distance between Galaxy X and Y increased from 500 light years to 1500 light years. So, the increase is 1000 light year. So, if this distance increase/expansion rate remains constant then in 4013 the distance between Galaxy X and Y should be 2500 light years. However, apparently this expansion rate is not constant rather its ever increasing. So, in 4014 the distance between Galaxy X and Y will be perhaps 4000 light year!

So, why it’s interesting? It’s interesting because after thousands of years from now (if human race still exist till then) our astronomers/cosmologists will see nothing but darkness when they point their telescope towards the heaven. The reason is obvious, because of the increasing expansion rate of the universe, all the astronomical bodies are moving away from us! Our nearby galaxies will go far away from us, so far that even the light emit/reflected from them will never reach our telescope lens anymore! Perhaps future mankind will read in the history books that thousands of years ago when mankind gazed at the sky they were able to see stars and all but that will sound more of a story to them at that point! Seeing is believing and obviously mere seeing will not help them in that case!

But before feeling sorry for our future generation perhaps we should feel sorry for ourselves! Perhaps the night sky was more interesting thousands of years ago when our ancestors gazed at it!

2. Aaron Swartz’s suicide: He was one year younger than me and he committed suicide last week. This is just mind blowing what he achieved in his short 26 years life. He was sort of a tech nerd that I always dream to be. But there is always that other side of the coin. The things made him famous are the things that lead him to suicide. You can read what he actually was here. In summary, he hacked into a paid academic journal database site, got arrested with the accusation of intellectual property violation and all those legal jargons. According to Wikipedia, at the time of his death, Swartz, if convicted, faced a maximum of $1 million in fines and more than 35 years. A lot of people are saying those legal issues were just too much for him and he took the path of suicide as an escape. Suffice to say, life must feel terribly frightening and insecure with such allegation looming over you however in a blogpost that he wrote in 2007 he mentioned about his sickness and mental depression. Perhaps allegation, depression, sickness all together caused his life but what a waste of such prodigious talent!

Semantic web was one of his research areas and that was the topic of my MSc dissertation. So many times I wished if I could be as smart as Aaron Swartz, at least on this Semantic Web field! But apparently his own smartness was pointless to him at the time of his death. His depression and fear was far more powerful than his own perception at his own talent that we all admire. We only know and care about the glittering sides of our idols. Sad. Rest in peace Aaron Swartz.

3. Word of the week: I learned a new English word this week. Sapiosexual. Sapiosexual means “a person who is sexually attracted to intelligence in others”. Anyone? :/

Image source: http://purpleopurple.com/inventions-and-inventors/expanding-universe.html

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