Monday, January 09, 2006

The Beauty that is Mother Nature

As beautiful and fascinating as the opposite sex is, they cannot compare to the grandeur and splendor of Mother Nature. In simpler words, I've been watching a lot of animal planet, discovery channel and national geographic. Mostly the shows I have been watching were shows on animals. Monkeys fascinate me, not in that sick beastiality way or the King Kong woman love thing but its more of how much they are like us, fine, me. Recent scientific discoveries give strong evidence to the idea that the great apes have specific calls for each other, meaning they can name each other. Furthermore, we know clearly that they are self aware, only humans, great apes and dolphins can recognize themselves in a mirror. check this: apes. All other animals cannot do that (some monkeys that aren't great apes can do it, like chimp and baboon), something as simple as recognizing yourself in the mirror isn't so simple to most animals, infact damn near impossible. They might not have the same level of self awareness we do but they do possess it. This brings into many moral and ethical considerations: if these beings can be aware of themselves, should we treat them more akin to us than other animals? This is a discussion I will pick up when I bring up consciousness and the brain, which is another fascinating topic as it deals with the notions of self, soul, God and human understanding.

Back to the topic, Nature has given each animal the ability to survive in their environment. The golden eagle of scotland can see a mouse in the grass from a mile away, its eyes have "tissue" windshield wipers to keep its eyes moist and from freezing. The pitt viper has an additional sense aside from sight, smell, taste, touch and "hearing", it can sense/see heat. Right below its nose is a heat sensor which allows the viper to see the world in heat signatures, allowing it to be ready for any warm blooded animal that comes around it. The blue whale which is the largest animal to ever live, yes even larger than the dinosaurs, weighs about 150 tons and is the length of 120 feet or length of 3-4 school buses. As the blue whale dives deeper and deeper it becomes more and more dense the oxygen in its body condenses to allow it to survive the pressure. It can even make sounds that travel thousands of miles allowing them to "communicate" with each other. Crazy huh? By the way, for those of you who are wondering is there really such a thing as a liger, yes there is. They are lion father and tiger mother's child, they are sterile and weigh up to 1000 lbs and oddly they are not sterile and can reproduce, it happens a lot in singapore. Only female ligers are fertile, the males are sterile. There is also a tigion, tiger male and lion female offspring but it weighs 350 lbs smaller than both a lion and tiger. so there you go.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Darwin v. God

Its been an interesting week. Last weekend for New Years a group of us went to Mercury Bar up on 33rd and 3rd. It was a good spot, no cover and higher girl to guy ratio which is always good. It was a fun. Essentially I had been going out from thursday night to wednesday night, 6 days straight. It was crazy, plus the USC-Texas game was awesome, Vince Young is an animal. Anyways, the highlight of the entire week was probably going to the Museum of Natural History, which happens to be about 20 blocks from my apt.

My cousin Sudharashan, his friend Ashok and I went to check it out. Specifically we went to see the Darwin Exhibit. It was pretty fascinating, the sheer amount of research and work that went into his theory, given the technological level of his time period. He traveled around the world to every continent and studied hundreds of plant and animal species. The most powerful discovery of the past 300 years I would say. He did something amazing, which in our day seems so simple and obvious, human beings are animals and are connected to the world and other species. Not only are we merely connected but we are the bearers of billions of years of development and growth in the world. It is mindblowing to see the fetuses of a bat, pig, horse and human, in the first few months they are all indistinguishable. Human beings as an embroyo possess a tail, the entire evolutionary processes occurs from conception to birth. The specifics of the evolutionary process are still being debated and discovered to this day, this is only my uber brief discussion on darwin, which I will return back to more and more as I read more and more.

Now, does Darwin's revolutionary and dangerous idea destroy all that we know or understand about consciousness and God? I don't really think so but apparently such is the view in this country. Evolution is seen by many fundamentalists as anti-God and is seen as an affront to religion. The problem is that God isn't something you can prove or disprove. Evolution is a natural process which can and should be studied because it can give us insight into how we came to be. The current political and religious debate on evolution is known to most given the Christian viewpoint against evolution is all over the news and was at one point even taught in schools. So let me try and explain the Hindu view.

Consider this, the ten avatara's of Vishnu: Matsya (Fish), Kurma (Tortise), Varaha(Boar), Narasimha (half-man/lion), Vamana(dwarf), Pasurama(tribal warrior), Rama(human), Krishna (divine/superior human), Buddha (enlightened human), Kalki (supreme human). For many Hindus this shows the evolutionary tale of beings. From aquatic animals to supreme humans. The Hindu theory of life and evolution goes like this: The Supreme Being known as Narayana (he who is the abode of all beings) among infinite other names, possesses all things within Him(or It but I'm using Him). He wills that "May I become many" and then the infinite universes issue out from him. The universes all issue out through intense vibrations and energy (argued by many Hindu's and physicists as the Big Bang). Energy then becomes matter and as matter develops so do the life forms, of which there are 8,400,000 types of life forms (Not sure if this means species or distinct types of beings). Hinduism says that the soul cycles through these 8,400,000 life forms based on one's karma.

The key point to remember in Hindu thought is that since ancient times Hindu scholars and experts all have held the belief that many things in the Hindu scriptures are metaphoric and allegoric because the explain reality one must experience it and mere words can't do it justice but can only point one in the right direction. The example used by Hindu logicians is this: I can describe the moon to you in various manners like, the white orb between seen between the two branches or the bright circle in the night sky but unless you look for yourself you will never understand what the moon is. So according, even the mythological elements were seen to have that idea. For Hindu's, human beings are not anything special outside of nature but are seen as animals with the ability for self awareness. Thats it for now, but i'll come back to this later. Any comments?