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This is just going to be a quick one and is closely related to these two posts: the original post on the black hole multiverse and alternate dimensions and the follow up post explaining Hawking’s Information Paradox and how it gives strong supportive evidence for the first post.

I don’t know how many people analysed my theory closely enough to realise this but considering the black hole multiverse theory is correct (there is a universe in every singularity and our universe is just the core of a black hole of an even greater universe), we still need to understand how the uppermost and lowermost universe work. As I was walking home from the gym I came to a solution for this problem, which is similar to saying “how can the universe exist by itself without boundaries” (because if the uppermost universe containing all the other universes is the final universe, that makes it a boundary).

As I lay out my proof, I want you to keep in mind that for the universe to be independent (that is, self-creating and -functioning), it has to have a net effect of zero. The existence of negative energy (such as anti-matter) is evidence for our universe being independent. The analogy Hawking uses is a man making a hill on a flat, dirt land. To make the hill, the man has to dig dirt out of the floor and pile it up. As the hill (the universe) is formed, an equal hole is formed so the net effect is zero. Something was not formed out of nothing, it was formed by splitting the positive and negative parts. I’ll explain this mathematically so it makes more sense. If we start off with nothing, we have zero. But we can have 10 if we also have -10, because together, they still equal zero. There is still nothing, it’s just split up. Let x equal any number of anything (matter for example). +x -x = 0, so we still have nothing, but the two parts are split up. Hawking proposes that the empty space in the universe contains the negative portion of our universe. I’ll clarify this later when I’ve read more papers on negative energy.

Anyway, now that we know it’s entirely possible for the universe to exist independently (I can prove this, and may do so in a later blog post – suffice to say, it is not necessary for any “divine creator” to exist because the universe can create itself under the laws of physics), we have a number of possibilities to explain the uppermost and lowermost universes.

To make things easier, think of all the universes collectively as a multi-layered fountain. Matter is the water that flows through the fountain. Black holes (which contain singularities that suck matter from that level of universe) are like holes in that level of the fountain. Assume there’s one hole for every black hole. That means water flows through these holes (black holes) into the next level (the next universe). Now the question is, how does the highest level of this fountain (the uppermost universe) get its water (matter)? Well, the analogy should make it obvious but the most logical answer is that the lowermost universe is connected to the uppermost universe (such as a special type of black hole). With the fountain analogy, it would be a pump (water is pumped back up to the top of a fountain so the fountain flows independently, in case you didn’t know). Essentially, we have a loop (again). If we consider black holes to be doorways into an alternate universe, it would be like a circular hallway with many doors partitioning the hall. The first door opens to the second, which opens to the third and so on until the last door opens back to the first one.

Now, I anticipate some confusion over how something can contain itself in itself (because two boxes the same size will not fit in each other right?). Well that’s where the dimensions come in. “Size” is not a reliable measure when you start transcending dimensions. Proof? You can draw a straight line infinitely long but its area (a 2D measure) will always equal zero. Similarly, you can draw a 2D square infinitely large but its volume (a 3D measure) will always equal zero. As you can see, when you move between dimensions, size is not a valid measurement, and considering the proposed 11 dimensions (based on quantum mechanics and string theory), it’s entirely possible that the universe can contain itself inside itself. What’s more is that the assumption that dimensions move in a positive direction (for lack of a better word to describe this concept) is not actually set in stone. We could have negative dimensions, which cancel out the positive dimensions, arriving at a net effect of zero (as required for an independent universe) and making it even more possible for the universe to be self-containing.

Anyway, if anybody was looking deeply enough into my earlier posts and identified this “problem” I have now just proposed a solution.

As you can probably tell, I’m quite obsessed with this science stuff now. The reason is because I basically found an intellectual keystone – one piece of knowledge that managed to connect all the other scientific knowledge I had into a single coherent theory. It’s an amazing feeling when everything just falls into place, which is why I can’t stop thinking about it.

This is actually a bit of a continuation from my earlier post on the multiverse and additional dimensions theory, and is basically supporting evidence for the multiverse (which is itself evidence for additional dimensions).

To avoid things getting messy, I’m going to break this into three subheadings.

Stephen Hawking:

You can easily do a quick wikipedia on him if you want to find out the more mundane details of his life. I’m just going to quickly mention some relevant things about him.

Hawking has a motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which has confined him to a wheelchair. As he is almost fully paralyzed, he communicates with facial twitches and a speech device where he enters types the words he wants to say by scrolling across a virtual keyboard with his eyes. This condition alone is proof of his genius as he rationalises complex theoretical physics in his mind without the benefit of being able to write things down. Honestly, I can’t stress enough how amazing that is. I hated 4 unit maths in high school and I had textbooks, the internet and calculators to rely on. His peers have said that Hawking works on intuition that is freakishly accurate, as if he is in tune with the universe in the same way that Einstein and Newton were.

Hawking’s black hole equation combined separate major fields of physics into one elegant formula, the first time (and only time to my knowledge) that separate fields of physics have been unified. Those of you who know a bit about physics will know why this is a big deal – there are many types of physics and they have never been unified under one single model before (which would be known as the theory of everything). The Hawking-Bekenstein entropy equation is:

Where S is entropy from thermodynamics, c is the constant for the speed of light from Einstein’s work, k is the Boltzmann constant, G is Newton’s constant for gravity, h is the Planck constant from quantum physics, and A is the area of the black hole.

Not only is this a combination of different fields of physics, it is a simple equation (which is considered mathematically beautiful, like Einstein’s e=mc^2).

The last thing I want to mention are a few of his theories that are relevant to this post. First, he provided mathematical proof for the beginning of the universe (the big bang), he not only described the mechanism of black holes mathematically, but defined many of the laws governing them (such as the event horizon, which is the region around the black hole which if you enter, there is no escape), and he also predicted that black holes would evaporate over time.

The Information Paradox:

The Information Paradox was something Hawking came to based on his work on black holes. Black holes break everything down into subatomic particles and suck them into the core of its gravity – a singularity (defined as a point that is infinitely small, infinitely dense, with an infinite gravity). The gravitational force of a black hole is so strong that not even light can escape. The implication of this is that whatever is sucked into a black hole is lost forever (or rather, it is stuck in the black hole forever).

However, Hawking later proved that black holes would evaporate over time. This is related to two facts: first, black holes emit radiation (a form of energy) and second, E=mc^2. Einstein’s equation means that energy and mass are essentially the same thing, just in different forms (you can mathematically represent energy/mass as a function of the other). What this means is that if black holes emit energy, they need to burn mass to do so; thus if a black hole runs out of mass (given that it runs out of stuff to suck in and burns out its core), it will evaporate.

Why was this huge news to the science world? Because the laws of physics (conservation of mass and energy) state that you cannot destroy mass/energy, only change its form. Information is “coded” into particles, and can never be lost. A visual representation of this would be if I tear a piece of paper to shreds. If I have all the pieces still, and a knowledge of how they fit together, I could theoretically recreate the original paper. The same applies to everything in the universe – if I burn a tree inside a containment unit, I would have everything that tree (and the fire) was made out of inside that containment unit. Theoretically, I could use those ingredients to remake the tree. However, Hawking’s proof of black hole evaporation violated this most fundamental law. If a black hole disappeared, what happened to all the information it absorbed? It would disappear with the black hole, a clear violation of the conservation of mass/energy. In essence, Hawking described black holes as huge cosmic machines that went around erasing parts of the universe and proclaimed that parts of the universe were missing as a result. Physicists were mind boggled and needed to disprove this theory. Why? Because the implications were that if black holes could violate this law, then the law was no longer a law of the universe. If it was no longer a law, that means that information anywhere in the universe could potentially be erased, and not just inside black holes. Further, at this time more black holes were discovered – there were supermassive black holes and micro black holes. There could even be micro black holes existing in your room as you read this. If black holes have the power to erase information, how can you say anything you know or see or feel or believe is real? Nothing is certain if everything is impermanent. This caused a huge fuss and was known as the Information Paradox.

Later, a theoretical physicist, Leonard Susskind came up with an alternative theory to solve the Information Paradox. The science world breathed a sigh of relief, but Hawking was determined to prove Susskind was wrong.

Unfortunately, at this point Hawking’s ALS got even worse. He was hospitalised but miraculously, he survived and went back to work. By now, he was so paralyzed that he had to get a student to help him work. Hawking would feed him ideas and the student would do the calculations and try to prove the concepts. As Hawking’s ALS got worse, his work became frustratingly slow. Now, his student tries to anticipate what Hawking wants to say (Hawking types the first few letters of a word and he guesses what word Hawking means).

Anyway, after getting out of hospital, Hawking went to a renown physics conference and made a public statement. He admitted that he had been wrong – information was not erased. However, he also declared Susskind wrong and claimed to have solved the paradox himself. I haven’t read this paper (it’s quite recent and he hasn’t provided mathematical proof yet), but from what I’ve gathered, his solution is as followed: information is not erased because it is transmitted to an alternate universe. The multiverse theory predicts an infinite number of universes, and inevitably, some of these universes will have no black holes. If there are no black holes, there is no way for information to be lost (this is a logic loop similar to time travel – if the cause of the problem doesn’t exist, you can’t have a problem in the first place). Basically, information will be transmitted through universes until it reaches a universe with no black hole, and since there is no black hole, the information can’t be lost.

Progress is ridiculously slow now – Hawking can only put out a few words a minute. Personally, I think it would be an astounding tragedy (especially in Hawking’s mind) if he becomes fully paralyzed and unable to spread his knowledge to the world. What would be more horrible was if he proved the existence of other universes but was unable to tell us. Imagine being trapped in your own mind with a universe shaking idea, fully proven, but unable to tell anybody around you.

Implications and the Multiverse Theory:

I really hope Hawking survives long enough to fully prove his new theory. It would be a tragedy for him to die with this work uncompleted as it would be definitive proof of a multiverse (because a multiverse would be necessary for the laws of physics to remain absolute).

How does this relate to my previous post? Well, as a quick refresher, I recently thought of the idea (which other scientists have also supported) that every singularity contains a universe. The reason for this is because our universe originated from a singularity that caused the big bang. Logically, all singularities have the potential to big bang and spew out its contents (a universe). There are singularities at the core of every black hole, meaning that there are hundreds of millions of universes inside our own universe, and that our own universe could just be the core of a black hole of an even greater universe (which would, by necessity, have more dimensions than us).

By the way, a quick note on the dimensions; further support for my suggestion that even more dimensions exist (and that our universe belongs to a universe with more dimensions) can be found in quantum mechanics and string theory. These two branches of physics study predict, by necessity, the existence of at least 11 dimensions. I think the fact that we’re working on string theory and alternate dimensions can be likened to the “fourth wall” in theatre – the characters of the play should not be aware of the audience’s existence but sometimes they “break the fourth wall” and hint that they do acknowledge an audience’s existence.

Back to the implications though: I believe in my previous post I suggested that the matter (or information) sucked in by a black hole is used to create a new (and smaller) universe. I made this post without thinking of Hawking’s multiverse, but the two concepts coincide well. Hawking states that by necessity, these other universes must exist to contain information that is taken from our universe. That is tantamount to what I said, that these alternate universes contain matter (information) from our current universe.

Essentially, I was beaten to goal again – this time Hawking came up with the idea before me. This stuff happens inevitably, and I admit, much of my knowledge is inspired by Hawking, but I can’t help but feel like I’m travelling in a rut because I’m arriving at the same conclusions as others. Breakthroughs need radical thinking that forges a whole new path or the thinker will inevitably run into the same dead-end as someone before them. This is way out of my depth already (I have long since lost any mathematical reasoning and have been relying on theoretical physics to rationalise my conclusions). I eagerly await Hawking’s work and am filled with admiration at the thought that even now, while I write this blog post, Hawking is painstakingly putting out a couple of words a minute to his student who is so close and yet so far from proving a multiverse.

So I was showering after watching a documentary on Stephen Hawking and came to two absolutely mind-boggling scientific epiphanies. I don’t know what you guys do when you shower but I think about stuff. Anyway, I was sure that I had discovered something ground-breaking but, as usual, somewhere some place somebody had thought of it before me. Nevertheless, I thought I’d take the liberty of naming this theory after myself to appease the disappointment of not being the first.

The Prophet’s Multiverse was a theory I came to after remembering Hawking’s comment that the universe is essentially a black hole working in reverse. Black holes crush matter into a singularity whereas our universe expanded from a singularity. The implication of this is that every singularity contains a universe in it. That means that every black hole has a universe at its core and that our universe is just the singularity at the core of an even larger universe. The size of things may feel mind boggling, especially when there are roughly 100 million stellar-mass black holes in the universe. However, keep in mind that we, as humans, have constantly been corrected in our assumption that we understand how big things are. We see more and more of the universe over time and realise more and more how small we are. This is just another step in that direction.

To help visualise this, consider yourself in the room of an enormous building. Each level has many rooms, but there are no doors or windows, just four solid walls. To us, that room is the entire universe. There is nothing outside of it because we have no reasonable evidence to think that anything exists outside of the room (especially since there are no doors or windows). In reality, however, there are many more rooms in the building, all of which think that they are all that exist. Imagine if I put doors in the walls but they were all locked. That’s what this current stage is. We have reason to believe that other rooms (or universes) exist now, but we have no method to reach them. Now all we’re looking for is the key.

Honestly, it’s an amazing idea to think that we are just a black hole’s singularity in another universe. Likewise, imagine the universes inside one of our black holes. They probably think that they are the only universe without ever realising that they are contained within our own universe.

Before people get lost at this point, it’s probably worth pointing out that a singularity is an infinitely small point with infinite density, mass and gravity. This means that the singularity that contained our universe (released by the big bang) contained every ingredient necessary to make our universe. Likewise, black holes in our universe are sucking ingredients into their singularities, ingredients that may be used to create their universe. The big bang itself is open to further examination. Hawking predicts that black holes will dissipate, releasing Hawking radiation. It’s possible that this Hawking Radiation is just a big bang for a smaller universe. It only looks smaller to us because we’re infinitely larger. Similarly, our big bang could just be the dissipating radiation of a universe that is even larger than us.

Anyway, apparently a Polish cosmologist and some other physicists have already come up with this same theory as me (though we differ on the specifics). I just wanted to write it down because it feels like a waste of a shower-time epiphany.

My second theory is the Prophet’s Dimension, and is basically proof of more dimensions that exist. As far as I know, nobody has thought of this one yet. This is a bit hard to explain with just words and is impossible to draw so you’re going to have to use your imagination. As we know, the universe has no edge. There’s two possible explanations for this: nothing exists outside of the universe, thus there can be no edge, or the universe loops back on itself (the same way as Earth does, which is why we don’t fall off the edge of the Earth). I find the first explanation to be conceptually difficult because that would imply the possibility of standing at the “edge” of the universe and simply being unable to move any farther or see any farther, therefore I go with the second assumption.

For the universe to loop on itself, we have to conceptualise a three dimensional loop (ignoring time because time can be a linear infinite) – EDIT: When I say a linear infinite, I mean time is a curve with a minimum value of 14.6 billion years (beginning of universe) and a potential maximum value of infinity; remember that time can only travel in one direction – the positive. It’s impossible to draw a 3D loop so here’s where the imagination comes in. Let me just justify my last statement (for those who are thinking of spheres). A circle is a one dimensional loop because a line is one dimensional and it loops back on itself to form a circle (which is then 2D). A sphere is a two dimensional loop because it is a 3D object, and using the same logic of the circle, it becomes a 2D loop. The long version is, if you draw a circle, then rotate it along the diameter (to represent the new axis and hence dimension) you get a sphere.

Ok, back to the point at hand. Since it is impossible to draw a 3D loop, I’m going to represent the 3rd dimension with a 2D plane. So let’s think of a sheet of paper. The paper is 2D (or 3D if you consider the thickness). Imagine that the surface of the paper page is 3D. Now, the paper is rectangular so it has an edge. We know the universe has no edge, so the paper has to be  folded into a sphere (don’t ask me how, just imagine a spherical page). Tada, we now have a universe with no edge, where the 3D universe is contained on the 2D surface of the page. If it helps you understand, imagine the page’s thickness to be a dimension, in which case the page is indeed 3D, but keeping in mind that the thickness has to be infinite (and thus loop back on itself) because the universe has no edge no matter which direction you travel. I have no trouble substituting the 3D universe with the 2D page so I’m going to continue with that description (you’re just simplifying an entity by making another entity represent it, such as x+y=z and x+y+a = 1, therefore z+a =1; it’s just substitution to help you think easier).

So, we have a spherical object but it’s hollow in the middle. What does that mean? It means there’s space contained within our universe’s boundaries that we cannot access no matter which direction we travel (remember, the page represents a 3D space, so no matter what direction you travel, you’re still travelling on that page). The implication of this is that there’s more dimensions in our universe than we can physically access, and that there could be so much more to the universe than we can physically see.

If we tie this theory to the one above, we can assume that larger universes than ours have more dimensions (because a singularity is one dimensional but it contains a three dimensional universe).

Anyway, those are the two things I came up with while I was showering. Pretty mind boggling stuff huh? Science is so cool.

Life is a learning process and as a child (before I entered senior year of high school), I learned some things that really blew my mind. I’m sure some of these were experienced by us all whereas others some of you still don’t know (hopefully, or this won’t be that interesting).

  1. The refrigerator light: There’s a button between the door and the inside of the fridge that is pressed when the door is closed. I remember trying to close the door slowly to see when the light turned off. Finding out how it worked sort of ruined the fun for me, as I could then manually turn the light on and off. This button also stops the beeping that occurs when you leave the fridge door open for too long (because pressing the button makes the fridge think it’s closed).
  2. E=mc^2: The implications of Einstein’s famous equation probably escapes most people. Everyone knows the equation but not many know what it means. Since my mother is a nuclear physicist, I learned this one pretty early on. We can tell, from basic mathematics, that an increase in energy (E) means an increase in mass (M), because C is a constant (speed of light) and does not change. The implication is that the closer you travel to the speed of light, the more mass you get (or heavier you get). Further, the equation unites two concepts: the conservation of mass and conservation of energy, wherein mass and energy cannot be created or destroyed, but only changed in form. Further, the equation describes a mass-energy ratio where, in a closed system, energy comes from the mass of an object (for example, a flashlight emitting light will become slightly lighter than when it is not emitting light).
  3. Heavier objects fall at the same speed as lighter objects: Galileo’s discovery was mind boggling to me as a child because I couldn’t come to grips with the idea that a super heavy object like a tank would fall at the same speed as a sheet of paper. Even now, it sounds a bit weird, but what determines the speed an object falls at is the air resistance. A fun experiment to do is dropping a book and a leaf at the same time. The leaf falls slower because of its shape which increases air resistance. But what if you put the leaf on top of the book? They fall together because the book is taking all the resistance on itself.
  4. Microwave ovens do not produce heat: This is a cool one that I think most people still don’t understand. When you reach into a microwave oven to get your food you don’t feel that hot air you get from opening a conventional oven door. Why? Microwave ovens don’t produce heat. They produce an electromagnetic field. Because water molecules are dipoles (one side is positively charged and the other side is negatively charged) and because electromagnetic waves are made up of an alternating electric and magnetic field, the microwave basically pushes the water molecule in a direction depending on the field. Since the field alternates, the water molecule is basically spinning and releasing heat to nearby molecules. The reason why you shouldn’t put metal in the microwave is because it can accumulate a high voltage that will cause a dielectric breakdown of the air inside the microwave which can release harmful gases.
  5. Spaghettification: This is a cool feature of black holes. Once you enter the event horizon of a black hole, your body is affected by gravity at different levels. Assuming you go feet first, your head experiences less force than your feet, so at some point you simply split in half. These two new portions of your body will experience the same effect and split again into quarters. This process will continue until you are broken down into a molecular level and essentially become a stream of subatomic particles that gets sucked into the core of the black hole. This process is known as spaghettification.

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Edit: I’m in a lecture right now and very bored so I thought of a sixth thing.

6. Time is the fourth dimension: I’m sure many people have heard of this but not many fully understand why. Think of it as a mathematical graph. I’m sure everyone has encountered simple graphs in their lifetime. A 2D graph has two axes, the x and y coordinates. You can identify the location of a point based on their coordinates (x,y). Now, a 3D graph (which you’ll see in higher levels of mathematics). The principle is the same. There are now three axes, and if you want to identify the location of a point, you need the three coordinates: (x,y,z). Now, adding a fourth dimension doesn’t make sense right? Because our world is 3D, comprised of objects that have three dimensions that we can touch, right? Now we introduce the universe. As we know, the universe is expanding from a single point at which the big bang occurred. That means as you travel towards the “edge” (there is no edge, I’m just making a point) of the universe, you are essentially going back in time (seeing things that have existed longer than Earth, which is only 4.5 billion years old, whereas the universe is 14.6 billion years old). Since the universe loops on itself (not necessarily a sphere but similar in that you won’t ever reach an “edge”), that means we can’t rely on only three coordinates to locate a point in the universe. We need to know how old that point is, hence time is the fourth coordinate. Thus, the universe is actually 4D. We only consider things to be 3D because Earth is so tiny that the fourth dimension makes no difference on Earth (we just say the whole Earth is 4.5 billion years old, rather than saying the core is older than the crust).

The English language is full of strange idioms, many of them that we use without understanding how that phrase came to being. I only have time for a few but I might add more later. Let’s take a look at them shall we?

Train of thought: The process and direction of one’s thoughts

From the early 14th century, the word “train” meant a “drawing out or delay” of something. In the mid-15th century, the word evolved to include a “retinue or procession”. The first example of the term “train of thought” was attested in the 1650s whereas the first use of the word “train” in the sense of a locomotive. As a result, the idiom “train of thought” has nothing to do with trains (the transport) and is more likely to derive from a “delay” of a “procession” of “thought” (hence losing your train of thought).

Cup of Joe: Coffee

There are a few theories on this one. I’ll talk about the two most popular ones here.

The first is attributed to Secretary of the US Navy, Josephus Daniels (1862-1948), for banning all US Navy ships from serving alcoholic beverages. As a result, sailors resorted to the next strongest drink: coffee.

The second is a reference to a “cup of jamoke” as coffee is a compound of Java and Mocha. The term jamoke has been used in popular culture before, hence a “cup of joe” being derived from a “cup of jamoke”.

Beat About/Around the Bush: To avoid getting to the point

The earliest example of this term was recorded around 1440 in the poem Generydes – A Romance in Seven-line Stanzas. 

Butt as it hath be sayde full long agoo,
Some bete the bussh and some the byrdes take.

This anonymous poem exists only as a single handwritten manuscript in the library of the Trinity College and Cambridge. The implication of this was that it was worse to “bete the bussh” than to “take the byrdes”. The next earliest example of the modern day phrasing of the term can be found in George Gascoigne’s Works, 1572.

He bet about the bush, whyles other caught the birds.

Technically, the correct phrase, if you stick to the origins of the word, would be “beat about the bush” but the incorrect US version took over in around 1980 so now most people say “beat around the bush”.

Gung Ho: Over-enthusiastic attitude towards doing something

This word was adapted from the Chinese military motto meaning “work together” (the word being kung ho). Lt. Col. Evans Carlson used this term frequently during World War II, where he would hold gung-ho meetings for his troops. They would discuss their problems and orders at these meetings. The expression became even more popular after the movie Gung Ho! in 1943 depicting a marine who did everything it took to get the job done.

Take the cake: Taking a prize symbolising victory or success

While it is widely believed that the phrase originated from the strutting competition known as the “cake-walk” in which the winner would have been said to have “taken the cake”, where cake was often the prize. This was popular within the black community of Southern USA in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

However, this expression has existed since the early 5th century BC where the Greeks used “take the cake” as a symbol for taking the prize. In 420 BC Aristophanes wrote “The Knights” (a criticism of the powerful Athenian politician Cleon).

If you surpass him in impudence the cake is ours.

The term “take the biscuit” is used the same way.

Early bird (takes the worm): Opportunity goes to those that are prepared

This is a tough one; the first recorded example can be found in John Ray’s A collection of English proverbs 1670, 1678.

The early bird catcheth the worm.

However, this suggests that the word was already in popular usage.

EDIT: I’ve added a part 2 with another three idioms.

Well, maybe not everything but here are some interesting things about sleep some people may not know. Sleep is not as simple as closing your eyes and losing consciousness for a few hours. There are two states of sleep: REM and non-REM (where REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement). NREM sleep has four stages and the sleep cycle moves from stages one to four of NREM sleep before entering REM sleep. This cycle then repeats.

NREM:

Stage 1: The individual begins to fall asleep, lasting around five to ten minute. Eye and muscle movement begin to slow and the individual is easily awakened.

Stage 2: The individual enters light sleep, lasting around ten to twenty five minutes. Eye movement stops, heart rates slows, and body temperature decreases.

Stage 3: The individual begins deep sleep. No eye or muscle movement.

Stage 4: The individual is in deep sleep. Difficult to wake individual and if wakened, the individual will feel groggy and disorientated. Blood flow is directed away from the brain towards the muscle, restoring physical energy.

REM: Arms and legs paralysed, breathing shallow, rapid eye movement, vivid dreaming occurs and REM sleep refreshes the mind.

So what’s the significance? Well, deep sleep is achieved in stages three and four of NREM sleep. If you are wakened in stage one you tend to feel poorly rested. A small period of dreaming occurs at the end of the cycle in REM sleep. In general, a sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes (65 minutes of NREM, 20 minutes of REM, followed by a final 5 minutes of NREM).

Sleep tips:

So what does all this mean? Using this knowledge (and some info I haven’t included yet), we can draw these conclusions, which I consider some tips on sleeping well.

  • You should try to plan your sleep so that you sleep for a duration that is a multiple of 90 minutes (length of a sleep cycle).
  • Sleep deprivation is from inadequate deep sleep (stages three and four); being woken in the middle of the night and sleeping late can limit your deep sleep.
  • Sleeping late/during the day is bad because your circadian rhythm (biological clock) is regulated by processes in the brain that distinguish between light and dark. At night, your body responds to the darkness by producing melatonin, a hormone that induces sleepiness. During the day, sunlight causes your brain to limit the production of melatonin. Your circadian rhythm gets disrupted by sleeping at inappropriate times and travelling through time zones.
  • Six hours of sleep is not enough – just because you can function on less sleep doesn’t mean that you are functioning optimally. Adults are recommended 7.5 to 9 hours sleep.
  • If you find it hard to wake up to your alarm, it’s most likely because you were woken during stage three or four (deep sleep). Refer back to the first tip to avoid this.
  • Sleep debt cannot be repaid in just a few instalments. It’s best to repay sleep debt in multiple instalments (one or two hours extra per night until the debt is over, rather than all five hours at once).
  • Apples are more effective than coffee at waking you up in the morning. Also, your body adjusts to caffeine so that over time, it becomes less effective so if you like drinking coffee to wake yourself, try not to drink it all the time or it loses its potency
  • Getting up straight away after you wake up is better for you than hitting snooze over and over

I think everyone knows enough about lucid dreaming already since the Inception craze. I think I might follow up this post with something about Inception later.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve made a new post, mainly because I’ve been busy with my last semester of university starting. That may just be an excuse for laziness on my part though, but we’ll go with the former. Anyway, the blog’s gone over 1,000 views now so I thought I’d do a good article with knowledge that will really benefit people’s thinking and their overall prospects for being an academic mind. Surely, knowing about this topic is considered “classier” than knowing the names of some celebrities, and since celebrities get so many readers I hope that this will get at least a few.

It also occurs to me that I may be losing some readers with the complexity of my diction, for which I apologise. This is simply how I write when talking about academic matters. It requires some paying attention to understand, but believe me, it’s an acquired taste.

Anyway, I was actually continuing a discussion of the nature of “evil”, following on from my blog post about villains, and was requested to make a post about ethics (specifically, Aristotle’s ethics). So here we go. Just a foreword, don’t go ratting on me about how these categories are not all-encompassing. I did not invent these, I’m merely redelivering information that I learned at university by consolidating all my knowledge and focusing it towards one particular topic. Unlike my three categories for villains, what I’m posting here are internationally accepted standards. Whilst I am sure that, for the purposes of psychoanalytical profiling, there exist many more categories, I assure you that the information I am about to divulge is correct to a university level academic standard.

The two types of ethics:

I’m not going to tell you who Aristotle is (because you should have an idea and can find this out for yourself), but Aristotle’s ethics fall into the category of teleological ethics. There are two broad groups of ethics: teleological and deontological. Teleological theories stipulate that behaviours/actions are considered ethical if the result is desirable, whereas deontological theories stipulate that a behaviour/action is only ethical if it is following some kind of paradigm such as duty or the law.

Examples of teleological theories include ethical egoism, utilitarianism, ethical elitism and ethical parochialism. Of these, I’ll explain the two most interesting (in my opinion), those being utilitarianism, which is the concept of “the greater good” in which sacrifices can be made to accomplish a larger aggregate gain in utility and ethical parochialism, which maximises the utility of your group (be that sports team, fans, company, family or any other discernible group). A good example of utilitarianism can be demonstrated through the hypothetical of a sinking ship. Your lifeboat can only support the weight of five people whereas you have six people trying to occupy the lifeboat. Either one person sacrifices himself to die (or is forced to by the group) or all of them die. If nobody volunteers, a utilitarian view would justify you forcibly removing a member of the boat to their death because you are saving five other lives by doing so (whereas it would be concerned unethical to kill somebody else using a deontological viewpoint). As for ethical parochialism, that should be axiomatic – you support your own “team” more than others.

A good example for a deontological theory would be Kant’s system, which we will get into later.Basically, deontological theories are heavily rule and duty based but they produced skewed results. For example, donating out of an act of compassion is not considered ethically valid as you have no duty or rule compelling you to donate. As such, teleological theories are generally considered superior.

Aristotle’s ethics:

Aristotle’s ethics were intended to apply to everyone, regardless of cultural background or belief. He believed that ethics should be axiomatic – that is self-evident once explained – and believed the purpose of all ethics should be towards the final goal, that being the achievement of “good”. The ultimate “good” that he suggested humans should all strive for was the flourishing of human life. Aristotle categorised his ethics into two groups of virtues: moral and intellectual. Now, there are 13 moral virtues and 5 major intellectual and 3 minor intellectual virtues so you can probably guess that I’m not going to list them all for you. You can probably just Google the list if you want. I will, however, explain how his virtues worked.

Moral virtues are obtained through good habit formation and practice. Moral virtues have two extremes (known as vices), those being excess and deficiency. Every person is naturally closer to one extreme than the other (that is to say, nobody stands at the arithmetic mean between these two vices). For example for the moral virtue of courage, the unethical practice of cowardice would be courage by deficiency, whereas excess courage would be considered something akin to recklessness.

Intellectual virtues are obtained through education and training. These have only one extreme, deficiency, except for prudence which has two extremes. Excess prudence would be fraud and opportunism whereas a deficiency in prudence constitutes negligence.

Justice is a little special as it is divided into three different types.

Distributive justice ensures that common goods are distributed maintaining proper proportionality. This means that if you have two kids and one is larger, and thus has a bigger appetite, if you give them both the same amount of food you are actually violating distributive justice. The key word here is proportionality.

Remedial justice is in the realm of law; it ensures the remedy of a wrong (i.e. compensation equal to damages).

Commercial justice ensures that the value of something given should equal the value of what is given in return (where this value is determined by market forces; i.e. ripping someone off violates this).

Thomas Aquinas refined Aristotle’s virtues with a Christian influence, but I’m not going to talk about that.

Evolution of ethics and morality:

The evolution of ethics is axiomatic. Quite simply, ethics and morality evolved as a point of necessity. If they had not, we would not exist in our current state – we would probably still be hunter-gatherers or would have died out as a species. This is a fact. There is no way we would be living in civilisations if it were customary for us to kill and rob our neighbours, thus, to survive, we evolved certain ethics and morals. I reject the Christian belief that god gave us morals, because that is both a horribly pessimistic view (that humans are incapable of being good without someone giving it to us; also it doesn’t explain why evil exists), and because it is arrogant to assume that before Christianity came along a few thousand years ago, every life form on the planet was evil (remembering that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old).

To articulate this point further, let me put it this way. The very fact that you are even here to ponder how ethics came to be means that ethics were a necessary part of evolution. Without it being a part of evolution, we would only have rudimentary semblances of society. These are all facts. Now on to my own personal hypothesis.

I believe that there are two primal instincts at play here. First and foremost, the strongest human instinct is survival. For that purpose a human will do anything within their power. An extension of survival is selfishness. A human will always, within the boundaries of what is allowed, seek to gain as much for themselves as possible. Now, this begs the question why we don’t loot and pillage and rape all the time. Well, short answer is we used to. However, as social order developed into a more complex system of social paradigm and law, humans were faced with a choice between getting whatever you wanted at the cost of community (and thus the inherent benefits of community such as economies of scale and safety), or giving up certain things to establish a community.

Now, as I said, survival is the strongest instinct and that is closely followed by selfishness (as the two are strongly correlated – to have more is to survive better). In a primal state, it would not be considered wrong to kill or pillage. There would be no concept of right and wrong (as these are human fabrications). Why is it that we chose society over personal gain? Because the prospect of a large community (which would eventually become cities and countries) offered more than the prospect of fending for one’s self. First, there are the intrinsic benefits a community brings. These should be obvious. There are many things that you can accomplish as a team rather than alone. Communities also tend to prosper more and offer more chance to profit (thus appealing to the selfish side). At the same time, humans are social animals. We cannot reproduce asexually and inter-mixing genes within a family is bad. Diverse genetic breeding produces stronger children. So in a toss up between “I can take my neighbour’s stuff if I’m stronger than him” and “I can have good children, more potential mates, more potential material gain and more safety” (among other things of course), humans naturally went for the one with the highest chance of survival – community. This is axiomatic too. If any creature did not naturally choose their best option for survival, they would not exist anymore.

So there you go, the evolution of ethics and my take on why it occurred this way.

No seriously, why are people still trying to argue against the existence of climate change? It’s amazing that during 2010, 48% (Rasmussen Energy Update) of Americans believed climate change to be exaggerated and by 2011 (Gallup Politics poll), 42% still didn’t believe it was an issue. I use America as an example here because the country is used as a standard for comparison, due mainly to its political influence and dominant economy in the past (I say this so people don’t think I’m picking on them, especially with what I’m about to say).

And why am I writing about this? Well, maybe a politician or CEO with a limited term in office will only think of their short term results but I would like to see something done to protect the lives and homes of over 7 billion humans, millions more animals, as well as our food supply and the future of life on this planet. But even if I didn’t care about all that, this one reason alone is enough for me:

 

I hate seeing shit like this. As if a polar bear’s life wasn’t hard enough, going weeks without food in the freezing cold (by the way, humans have also messed up fish populations, making these animals more desperate, which is why many go into human towns looking for food – and are sometimes shot for doing so). This animal’s entire life is spent looking for enough food to survive, and now it barely has any ice to rest on. Increasingly high amounts of polar bears have died from drowning because they simply can’t find any ice to rest on after going out hunting for food. They swim aimlessly looking for somewhere to lie down, and they keep swimming until their exhausted body fails and they just drown, fully conscious but unable to move. Such a sad and lonely death for such a majestic creature.

 

So, despite overwhelming scientific evidence and consensus within the scientific (and global) community, there are still people who don’t think climate change is real, many of whom live in the US. Well, what can I say? That I shouldn’t have expected so much from the country with the highest amount of adults that think angels are real, and who needed the government to release an official statement saying mermaids weren’t real? It’s funny that there is infinitely more academic evidence for the existence of climate change than there is for god, but somehow, 90% of Americans believe in god (Gallup poll). I’m not trying to turn this into a religious debate, I’m just pointing out the stupidity in having the capacity to believe in something with very little evidence, based on faith, yet reject solid evidence of something else when it’s presented to you. I mean, if you have the trust to believe in something obscure, wouldn’t that same trust make you even more susceptible to believing something with a great deal of evidence? I guess not, that’s silly of me to say.

Now, it will take too long for me to list every single logical fallacy and false “fact” that climate change sceptics use, and many people before me have already done that honour, so I’ll just make a statement of absolute fact here: climate change is as real as the earth beneath your feet. It is not the result of natural occurrence, it is not exaggerated in its impact, it is not lacking in any sort of evidence in any way, it is not due to the sun (in fact, the sun’s temperature has gone in the opposite direction to global temperatures; see links below). It is real.

Here’s 21 myths climate change sceptics use and a thorough debunking of them: http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2007/07/23/anti-global-heating-claims-a-reasonably-thorough-debunking/

Here’s  another 173:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

Here’s an Australian Government report (you can easily find your own government’s reports):
http://www.climatechange.gov.au/en/government/international/global-action-facts-and-fiction/cc-action.aspx

Here’s 10 more facts from academic sources:
http://www.climatechange.com.au/facts-about-global-warming/

Here’s an article from the Scientific American politely saying how sceptics are stupid:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-global-warming-a-myth

So yeah, if you still don’t believe in climate change, you’re either a genius whose opinion transcends the academic opinions of the entire global scientific community, or arrogant enough to think that you are, ignorant, or just plain stupid. This is not a discussion, so stop trying to make it one. How are we going to do anything about it if idiots still say it’s not real?

 

I just got back from watching The Dark Knight Rises and was quite happy with it. For a film close to three hours, it didn’t feel tedious or boring (as much as it should have) and was quite exciting throughout. I don’t intend this post to say anything other than the fact that it was an enjoyable watch, and the fact that it wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight, unfortunately. This is going to categorised under English because I’ll mention a few English related writing and film techniques.

There will be no spoilers, I’ll keep this very general so as not to ruin anything. I will hint at things though so, if that bugs you, watch the movie first.

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I glimpsed an interesting article a few days ago about this movie being a political message. I disagree, and think this is just another case of people reading too deeply into things to try and sound intelligent. While it is true that the creator of any story will inevitably let their personal ideologies seep into their text, I strongly doubt the movie was meant as a political message. However, I do think there was a strong intent to ground the film in reality – a quick look into the story’s plot devices will find several modern day concerns, such as identity theft, corruption, the income gap, returning power to the people (and taking it away from the wealthy), terrorism, government decisions, “structures as shackles” (you’ll understand this after watching the movie), and even the dangers of nuclear-related energy sources (which, despite the recent Japan scare, is stupid to anybody who knows anything about science – candles have killed more people than nuclear reactors, and nuclear power is the greenest power available to us right now; but that’s another rant). This isn’t a bad thing that Nolan’s done. His film was intended to be very gritty and realist in the first place, and as a writer, I know that grounding things in reality is a fast and effective way to build a connection with your audience. For a movie that was trying to say so much, it needed a fast way for us to care. Unfortunately, it missed a bit in that department.

With the introduction of Catwoman, Bane, Ra’s al Ghul’s child, Robin (you’ll find out who he is at the end), and a whole list of other characters with more minor roles, as well as the reinvention of Batman himself, it was very difficult to make a strong connection to the characters. When comparing this to The Dark Knight, we can see a huge contrast. Those of us who are writers will identify two broad categories of stories: character driven and plot driven. A character driven story depends hugely on the audience’s attachment to the characters, whereas a plot driven story relies on the twists and turns of its plot. These are by no means mutually exclusive, but it is almost always possible to identify which of the two a story most strongly identifies with. The Dark Knight was a film that was stolen by the villain (refer to my post on Villains), the Joker, and in Heath Ledger’s absence we can truly see how much of that story was driven by his amazingly played character. By contrast, The Dark Knight Rises is very plot driven. It feels as if we’re watching a series of exciting events unfurl, but there’s no connection to the characters (at least not as strongly as when the Joker was present). Batman’s character was the strongest emotional connections for the audience, with the fall and rise (hence the title) of his mental state, as well as the rise and immortalisation of the symbol of Batman, but compared to the complex love-hate relationship the audience had with the Joker, it feels weak.

The cinematics and mise-en-scenes were done very well, if a bit cheesy (torn US flag wafting in the breeze), and the visual effects really added to the excitement of the story. I’m willing to bet that watching it in the cinemas will be a completely different experience to watching it at home.

The little plot twist at the end feels a bit too sudden for my liking. They chose a good character to play the child, but as somebody who likes throwing in twists, I still think the audience deserves a bit more of a hint lest the twist feel too much like a deus ex machina (a cheap twist thrown in to “spruce things up”). There was no warning for the betrayal, it just happened. Also, the ending [b]did[/b] feel a little too nice (again, deus ex machina when that dude didn’t die – that’s all I can say without ruining it), but considering how things progressed, the chaos that occurred and the rise of Batman as an undying symbol to which future heroes would flock and take up the mantle when needed, it didn’t feel too bad. I guess I didn’t want him to die either.

Anyway, it’s hard to say more without giving away things so I’ll leave it at that. My advice is not to get too excited about the movie. Don’t expect an incredibly feat of awesomeness that would shoot rainbows through the last movie. Treat it like you would going into any other movie you hadn’t watched before and you will thoroughly enjoy it. Unfortunately, The Dark Knight eclipses its sequel, but not by a huge amount.

So since the Higgs Boson thing, I haven’t really written much about science. I thought I’d do a quick one on panspermia to amend this little problem.

Of all the theories on how life on Earth originated (or to be more specific, how it accelerate at such a rate), panspermia stands out as the most likely (in my opinion).

We all know life evolved over billions of years (it’s estimated that the earliest forms of life existed on earth around 3 billion years ago, if I remember my astronomy course correctly), but there was a period of time where evolution was sped up beyond predicted levels, allowing multicellular lifeforms to evolve in a much shorter time than they would normally have needed. I feel lazy tonight so I’m going to do most of this off the top of my head. If there’s anything I’m a bit hazy on, I’ll say so. I’m pretty solid on my facts of panspermia itself, I’ve just forgotten the exact timing and order of bacterial evolution on Earth. Feel free to research this yourself.

Anyhow, let’s not get into an argument over whether evolution is real or not. That would be stupid and unscientific, both of which automatically disqualify your opinion. I’m not here to say god doesn’t exist, you’re welcome to believe that he/she/it designed evolution, but the fact that evolution exists is a scientific truth on par with saying that atoms exist.

Panspermia is the hypothesis and process by which life is spread throughout the universe. The scientifc theory (let’s get this straight too, there’s a difference between a theory and a scientific theory) states that the universe is full of life (mostly at a very small and unevolved stage, such as bacteria) and these simple life forms travel around on comets, meteors and asteroids. When space rocks collide with a planet, they “seed” the planet with these simple life forms (by which I mean bacteria, carbon and amino acids). In layman’s terms, this means that life on Earth came from outer space, and very likely from Mars (because 7.5% of Mars rocks land on Earth).

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Here’s my own little twist to the theory (although I doubt nobody else has thought of it before). The universe, and thus life, was creating in the Big Bang. Originally, the Big Bang created hydrogen, helium and trace amounts of lithium. All the other elements on the periodic table were created in the furnaces of stars and released through supernovae, which scattered these elements throughout the universe (loosely quoted from Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson). As we know, stars are formed in nebulae, which are huge regions of dust and ionised gases, often containing these elements that were spread across the universe by other stars (which were formed by the original three elements of the Big Bang). The star’s gravity then attracts more space dust which orbit around it, eventually clumping together and forming planets. It thus follows that Earth was created in the same way, and either our nebula contained carbon (which is not unreasonable as it is one of the most common elements in the universe), or during its formation, Earth was bombarded by space rocks containing carbon. This is an absolutely necessary process as we (all life as we know it) are a carbon based life form. By that logic, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Earth was formed with existing life forms already on the planet, though sparse.

Predictions for the time that these simple life forms would take to evolve into multi-cellular life forms, given their density and state of evolution, don’t coincide with actual figures. Something boosted them along the way. Considering 7.5% of rocks from Mars reach Earth, it’s very likely that Earth was further fertilised through panspermia, boosting the bacteria numbers and speeding up the process of evolution.

So if you’ve ever wondered where life on Earth came from, the answer is space. Of course, everything was once in space (and still is) so I guess that answer should be obvious. What I mean, though, is the majority of the basic, microscopic life forms that evolved into all life around us came flying here on meteors, so if your heritage was traced back far enough, you could mostly likely claim that you’re a Martian.

Those who want to hear some evidence may look at this list I’ve quickly compiled:

  • In 1984, scientists discovered the meteor Allan Hills 84001. This meteorite had been blasted off the surface of Mars around 15 million years ago, and was found in Antarctica. In 1996 ALH84001 was shown to contain structures that may be the remains of terrestrial nanobacteria. Several tests for organic material have been performed on ALH84001 and amino acids and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been found. (http://www.panspermia-theory.com/)
  • Bacteria can survive the harsh environment of space, and indeed, it is a well-documented fact that organic compounds are commonly found in the tails of comets. Carbon, early bacterial ingredients and amino acids are frequently found protected in meteors.
  • Mars is a more protected planet than Earth, and may have developed an inhabitable atmosphere long before Earth did (it was less hot, is more protected from bombardment, and had oxygen before Earth).
  • Recently, scientists discovered life in a sample of rock taken from Mars a few years back. Originally, they hadn’t understood what they were looking at. Unfortunately, they destroyed this life during experiments, as they had no idea what they were doing. This was in the news recently.
  • Basic life ingredients like carbon (the best building block for complex life, followed by silicone) are abundant throughout the universe. They have also been proven to be able to survive in meteors, and are always shooting around through space at high speeds. Occasionally they land on a planet, and have been proven to be able to survive that impact (prove by many examples on Earth). It follows that life in space is frequently transported around to different planets.

The chilling, mind boggling and awesome extrapolation from this information is that perhaps humans once had a powerful civilisation on Mars, which eventually destroyed the planet through our well-known penchant for unsustainable living. As the planet could no longer support life (remembering that there is evidence of old river beds on Mars), we died out there as a species, leaving traces of our existence in bacteria and amino acid forms. Panspermia then brought us from Mars to Earth, where we reset the cycle and evolved all over again. If so, it’s ironic that we’re committing the same mistake again and destroying Earth. I can’t help but think, in the near future, we’ll drain this planet too, die out again, and then our remnants will be carried off as Earth, stripped of its protective atmosphere, is blasted to pieces, and perhaps we will re-evolve again on some other planet.

Well, if you’ve ever needed something to keep you up at night thinking, there it is. Man, science is awesome.

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