You’re Already Reading This

This text goes through your eyes, to your head, back to your brain, and kindles a thought. A vague and unique thought. You predict what you will be reading next. What made you predict? Your brain could’nt have. Because all humans have a brain but not a similar thought process. Which brings me to the question, where are you? Your inner self fabricating these thoughts, giving you a unique life altogether? Where?

Enough psychology. It’s Science. It basically is that tiny nuclear matter in each of your cells. The DNA. Your DNA is unique to you, Science says. But what if it’s not, what if there is someone out there, a replica – you, reading this right now, pondering – just as you? Guess what? There might be.

How would this be possible? You have a certain volume. How many quantum states could describe this volume you occupy? How many alternatives are there? How many possible sets of DNA can occupy you? It is 101070. That’s quite large. This number is so big that it over rides the number of planck volumes in the observable universe. However, if someone were to explore further into the universe, farther than 101070  planck volumes, there is quite a chance he would see your doppleganger, an arrangement of atoms that matches you. Mind, the universe is just 4*10185 planck volumes across. It’s a long way to go.

Also note, For some one sitting on Earth waiting for you to get there, it will take 13.7 billion years. Of course the visible Universe will have gotten 13.7 billion light years bigger in that time.

~Shamoil Khomosi

Pessimistic Flips

The arguments presented hereby have been purely extracted from my exhaustive daydreaming achievements.

Frankly, I’ve always loved messing things up. But this mess has held me spellbound. The linguistic mess. 

Let’s take English for instance. I’d pick a pair of random acronyms from this language. Say, good and bad. And structure a sentence utilizing them. Say, “It is Good to be Bad.” That’s a rather pessimistic sentence. So, let’s turn the tables and swap the two words, good and bad. Making it, “It is Bad to be Good.” That’s no good as well. Still pessimistic. Why doesn’t switching the words switch the meaning of the sentence too? Why does it have to be pessimistic in the first place?

I am well aware I am being bombarded with a bunch of objections. I’ll clear the decks with another set of examples. Observe these.

I hate to love you.”•”I love to hate you.”

It motivates discouragement.“•”It discourages motivation.

“It creates destruction.“•”It destructs creation.”

All heading towards pessimism. Oh beloved English! You’ve always looked at the half empty glass. Try looking at the half full glass. Try looking at optimism.

Before I’m into psychology, entertain yourself with this enthralling, self-perpetuated conversation: I answered his question. He questioned my answer…

In the meantime, “Will Will Smith Smith?” “Yes, Will Smith Will Smith.”

~Shamoil Khomosi

Do Hue See Yellow?

Conspiracies again. Dash off ‘Lemon’ on your search engine’s search bar. A decent spindle shaped inside-out torus with a hue of yellow will appear in the images column. A lemon. The crux? The lemon you’re admiring is not yellow, instead it is a mixture of Red, Green & Blue.

Why? Your gadget is intelligent enough only to display red, green and blue and play around with this triple to fabricate hues of other fascinating colours. If you are still wondering, grab a magnifying lens and zoom into the screen of any gadget. You will observe pixels, tons of them. Each pixel has varying concentrations of RGB (red, green, blue) and thus it assumes one of the colours from the spectrum. Appropriate concentrations of red and green fuse to produce yellow. Similarly are other colours born on the screen.

iphone-microscope
Microscope image of an iPhone screen. (Credit)
But, shouldn’t we just see green and red, instead of yellow, similar to the image above? No. This image is magnified to an incredible extent. As it miniaturizes to the original, the screen triumphs outwitting our brain. Our eyes are convinced that the light emitted is yellow because the pixels are incredibly tiny to be interpreted by its constituents.

Check out Matt Parker’s marvelous method of cracking a digital photo open, scraping out all of the numbers and putting these pixels into the cells of an Excel spreadsheet.

Unless you’re glad with the fake yellow, ‘hue’ will have to take the trouble of distinguishing the other ten million species of the visible spectrum.

~ Shamoil Khomosi

The Mercator Projection

Ever wondered why we are bound to the usage of rectangular maps to represent Earth, and not any other weird shape? Unfortunately, I’m not the first. Gerardus Mercator is. 

Annoyed by the spherical inconvenience of carrying a map of Earth, Mercator, in 1569, introduced a rather convenient method of representing a map. The one dumped in your school files: A rectangular map. And there’s a pretty neat logic behind this brilliant substitute.

Consider a sphere whose diameter is equal to the height of a cylinder. Evolve the equations for the total surface area of the sphere and the lateral surface area of the cylinder in terms of the sphere’s radius. You’ll notice the equations tally. Also, when unwrapped, the lateral surface area of the cylinder matures to provide a rectangle. Thus, a sphere’s area is that of a rectangle! Bingo, your map is on the go, in perfect harmony with the sphere, disregarding any extensions to patch the proportionality.

… If you were too lazy to visualize
Unwrap the Earth!

Highlights? The Mercator projection is erroneous. Why? Take a look at a globe’s pole. The longitudes converge into a speckle. Visualize the globe unwinding to frame the rectangle. The longtitudes no longer have a speckle to unite. They spread out to keep the rectangle’s length consistent. Distortions occur. And the area of regions near the poles exaggerate while those nearing the equator minimize.

Greenland’s area explodes 14 folds. Alaska mushrooms its stretch five folds. Check out the Mercator Puzzle and manipulate the distortions yourself.

Thankfully, it has not triggered the distortion of Earthlings; it might!

~Shamoil Khomosi

Why Are Bubbles Spherical?

Take a piece of wire and bend it into a square. Dip it in bubble mixture and blow. Why isn’t it a cube-shaped bubble that comes out the other side? Or if the wire is triangular, why can’t you blow a pyramid-shaped bubble? Why is it that, regardless of the shape of the frame, the bubble comes out as a perfect spherical ball?

The answer is that nature is lazy, and the sphere is nature’s easiest shape. The bubble tries to find the shape that uses the least amount of energy, and that energy is proportional to the surface area. The bubble contains a fixed volume of air, and that volume does not change if the shape changes. The sphere is the shape that has the smallest surface area which can contain that fixed amount of air. That makes it the shape that uses the least amount of energy.

Manufacturers have long been keen to copy nature’s ability to make perfect spheres. If you’re making ball bearings or shot for guns, getting perfect spheres could be a matter of life and death, since a slight imperfection could lead to a gun backfiring or a machine gun breaking down. 

The breakthrough came in 1783 when a Bristole-born plumber, William Watts, realized that he could exploit nature’s predilection for spheres.

When molten iron is dropped from the top of a tall tower, like the bubble the liquid droplets form into perfect spheres during their descent. Watts wondered whether, if you stuck a vat of water at the bottom of the tower, you could freeze the spherical shapes as the droplets of iron hit the water.

He decided to try his idea out in his own house in Bristol. The trouble was that he needed the drop to be further than three floors to give the falling molten lead time to form into spherical droplets.

Watts’ clever use of Nature to make spherical ball bearings

So Watts added another three storeys on top of his house and cut holes in all the floors to allow lead to fall through the building. The neighbours were a bit shocked by the sudden appearance of this tower on the top of his home, despite his attempts to give it a Gothic twist with the addition of some castle-like trim around the top. But so successful were Watts’ experiments that similar towers soon shot up across England and America. His own shot tower stayed operational till 1968. 

Neither do I want to have an abrupt wrap-up, nor do I have more words on the fancies of nature. Excerpt from The Number Mysteries by Marcus du Sautoy

~Shamoil Khomosi

No Birthday Wishes, Washington!

An inbred being bred twice in the same year. Disregarding any absurd superstition, it sounds like a catch from a spine-chiller sci-fi novel, right? No. Washington tells us why.

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732. At least, that’s what we’re told. However, his family Bible says he was born on February 11, 1731. 


At the time, England and its colonies were following the Julian calendar , instituted in 46 B.C. by the eponymous Julius Caesar. By that calendar, Washington was born on Feb. 11, 1731. But in 1752, England switched to the Gregorian calendar, which is still in use today, and that threw everything off. 

Why the switch, you ask? Because the Julian calendar was flawed and off-base, dawdling by 11 minutes annually. According to NASA, the Earth takes about 365.2422 days to go around the sun, or about 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. Leap years were installed in the Julian Calendars to fix the issue, however it still ran out of 11 minutes 14 seconds annually.

By the 1500s, these minutes had piled up, and the vernal equinox was arriving about 12 days earlier on the calendar than it used to. The Roman Catholic Church decided that this was unacceptable because Easter was becoming unhitched from its association with spring.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII put the Catholic world onto a new calendar, which bears his name. 

The Gregorian calendar has a leap year every four years except there is no leap year in years that are multiples of 100, unless that year is also a multiple of 400. This math, which was impressively done before the invention of satellites and computers, makes an average year 365.2425 days long, which is just 26 seconds off of NASA’s calculation. 

Thus, the church that condemned Galileo in 1633 for saying that the Earth revolves around the sun had, more than 50 years earlier, produced a fairly precise measurement of the length of a solar year. 

England was Protestant and took a little longer to adopt the Pope’s calendar. It did so in two steps. First, it moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1, which advanced the calendar one year. Second, it cut 11 days out of the year to sync up with countries already on the Gregorian calendar. Thus, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1752, was followed almost immediately by Thursday, Sept. 14, 1752, according to the National Archives in the U.K.

Washington’s birthday was retroactively bumped up to 1732 to stay consistent with his age, unfortunately endowing him with two birthdays! So, when would you prefer greeting Washington?!


(Read more @ Live Science)

~Shamoil Khomosi

Peaking a Plenty

A space elevator is on the go, rocketing towards infinity. Each day, we go deeper and farther down the cosmos. Rack up discoveries. Shelf inventions. Summit cliffs. Hold on, scaling mountains?

Yes. Sprouting out, taller than the Everest, is Gangkhar Puensum, positioned on the Tibet-Bhutan border. It is a cliff yet to be surveyed, because it is considered to be holy, and inquiries to summit Gangkhar Puensum have been fenced and withdrawn by the associated authorities.

Not ready to let Gangkhar Puensum get away, in 1998, a Japanese team attempted to climb the mountain by approaching it from Tibet (China claims that half the peak falls within its territory). But Bhutan protested, and the team had to abandon its bid under somewhat mysterious circumstances.


Surprisingly, Gangkhar Puensum is just one of a dozen other summits. Peaks which have not been explored due to numerous obstructions.

It is quite thought-provoking and counter-intuitive that having resided here for billions of years, we are yet to conquer and explore regions on our own planet. And it is unlikely that it ever will be soon. 

Plunge into your own thoughts for a moment and let them be known in the comments below. 

Yes, we ought to peak a plenty.

~Shamoil Khomosi

Ano(r)maly

A while ago, I made evident that you are a recluse. This time? Substantiate that you’re weird and abnormal. Yes? Yes.

To begin with, anything about you is nailed down as normal if you fall within just one standard deviation of the average for all people.

But, there are a LOT of idiosyncrasies you are unfortunately endowed with, 36 of them. These may portray, for instance, how tall you are, how many friends you have, how bad your breath is, or how often you lie.

Getting down to brass tacks, the statistical probability that you are normal for each of these 36 independent variations is ONE in a million!

Mathematically speaking, it is quite abnormal to be normal. Eh? Quite normal to be abnormal.

Shamoil Khomosi

Electron(ic) Loneliness

I reckon you’re a recluse. No? Perhaps, yes. Here’s a pretty logical and justifiable hypothesis that might prove you’re a loner!

Before jotting in the proposition, I’d recall some basic facts: Everything is fabricated from atoms. Atoms are encompassed by electrons. And similar charges repel each other….

Clap. Yes, clap. You just smashed your palms into each another. But, palms are made of atoms. Atoms are enclosed by electrons. You’re palms never came in contact because the electrons on both the ‘hands’ (like charges) repelled.

Be it a quintillion of force applied, electrons will always have trouble coming into contact (Pauli Exclusion Principle). And I, basically, just mentioned that you’ve never actually ‘touched’ anything.

That was ‘touching’.

Shamoil Khomosi

How To Use An Egg To Send A Secret Message

Giovanni Porta back in the 1600s in Italy discovered that you could write a hidden message on a hard-boiled egg with an ink made by dissolving an ounce of alum in a pint of vinegar. The ink penetrates the shell and marks the hardened white inside, disappearing from the outer surface of the shell while doing so. Perfect for sending secret messages- to crack the code, you crack the egg! And this is just one of the many absurd ways people have come up with to hide secret messages.

While we only have to crack an egg to retrieve a message, we have to pity the recipients of secret messages sent by an Ancient Chinese Method. The message would be written on a piece of silk, which was then rolled up very tightly. The silk ball was then covered in wax and given to the messenger to swallow. Recovering the message once it had ‘reappeared’ was not a particularly pleasant affair.

One of the most sophisticated ways of hiding a message was developed by the Spartans in 500 BC. They used a special wooden cylinder called a scytale around which they would wrap a thin strip of paper in a spiral. The secret message would then be written on the paper, lengthways down the scytale, but when the paper was unwrapped the message looked like gobbledygook. It was only by winding the strip of paper around another scytale of the same dimensions that all the letters lined up again correctly.

 

That’s a scytale
 
These methods of sending secret messages are examples of steganography – the art of concealing – rather than coding.

Whatsoever, utilizing the Chinese method to follow unfair means in examinations would be pretty unpleasant to mimic. Now, I don’t need to mention why!

Shamoil Khomosi