Monday, 30 July 2012

Richard Feynman- The Quantum Mechanic

A bongo-playing iconoclast whose rigour and energy revolutionsed the realm of theoretical physics. The theorist who conjectured where no mind would reflect, the mechanic that sought to decode the perplexities of quantum reality; a mundane scientist that pondered the fundamental answers to the fundamental questions. And while Einstein retained the first-half of the century, he deployed the second in a manner of panache and flamboyance. Richard Feynman remains deeply-seated throughout the pandemonium that fulfilled twentieth century physics, his signature skepticism and inherent touch of lucidity refined the image of the physicist and unveiled an ever sprawling yet dynamic constance of nature. Feynman entails a legacy that surpasses merely scientific proportions, rather one that echoes and reverberates throughout the whole of intellectual history. Theoretical physics has remained in constant pursuit of grand unifying laws that reinforce the understanding of the parenchyma of the cosmos; Feynman's role in that endeavor is woven intimately and methodically in his both his visionary foresight and eye for mathematical prowess. His theories of electrodynamics rethought the correlations of matter and light, depicting them in schema that resemble the careless scribbles of a child's sketch yet possess the inherent complexity of an exotic language. Much may be remarked regarding a practitioner of science, yet Feynman's legacy as both an iconoclastic public figure and revered physicist remain ever perennial. His capacity to doubt and to approach with a probing degree of skepticism while maintaining a measure of uncertainty remains a unparalleled world-view, a prodigious paradigm of intellect. It was the added account of particle physics and the mechanics of fluid helium that deciphered some of more renowned properties of zero viscosity. The sheer enormity of Feynman's bestowals is nothing short of incalculable, the augmentation of the canons of modern physics, the extrapolation of their classic and quantum indications and the freeing of the spirit of inquiry. A theoretical trailblazer, forever voyaging through the annals and spirit of science akin to a wayfarer voyaging through the vast oasis of the desert...

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Paranormal- Beyond the Bounds of Reality

Lurking figures of ectoplasm, reigning over the night; haunting and spooking in a manner of delight. The conveyance of thought seamlessly from mind to mind, telepathically converging on the psychic experience. The bending of cutlery and utensils via the power of will, telekinesis and its mystical fields of force. While such phenomena sound rather familiar to the exoteric mind, their incidence and documentation as figments of the paranormal remain far-fetched. Phenomena that breaks the ever known boundary of 'reality', is dismissed by skeptics and postulated by rigorous individuals of the scientific fraternity. And while paranormal happenings grip the mind with ever increasing anticipation and awe, a great challenge to the empirical basis to the scientific method is readily indicated. Paranormal events ranging from the magic of telepathy and clairvoyance to the mystic near-death and apparitional experiences exhibit such a challenge to conventional wisdom in a manner that enforces the spirit of inquiry. Latter-day parapsychology has yielded the finer rudiments of such happenings; from the extrasensory perception indicated by sensory deprivation to the telekinetic phenomenon as indicated by the manipulation of random number generation; the movement for an applicable and practical evidence-base seems to transcend the parameters of scientific methodology. But it remains the extrapolation of the scientific means of inquiry, to revamp its tenets and to redefine the nature of reality that is at the nucleus of such an intellectual saga. Above all, parapsychological research seems to unveil a coexisting reality alongside reality, indeed the term 'paranormal' serves an inconvenience, given some parapsychological experiences remain inherently ordinary. Such a controversial stance may be substantiated with the notion of the poodle that knows when its owner arrives home or the telepathy that is evident among callers of a phone conversation; the realm of ubiquity is unparalleled. The paranormal may remain a conception, an abstraction per se; the parapsychological movement for its objectivity and a sensation of consensus regarding not solely its plausibility but also rationality is paramount. For if such phenomena prove difficult to adapt into our current system of the universe, the implicit fallacy that such phenomena are fictitious is readily indicated. So in turn, the realm of the paranormal is indicative of the great challenges to scientific methodology and a primer to the incorporeal, the immaterial, the universal...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Linguistics- From Conjunctions to Chomsky

A cascade of lines, dots and dashes in a river of context, form and meaning. Not a vessel to be filled, but rather a fire to be kindled. A semantic entity that gives rise to a scope of meaning, a phonetic tone that plays with the dynamics of acoustics, a syntactic structure that gives the impression of order and complexity while its incalculable value forms the sheer fabric of humanity. Language remains a cosmopolitan feat, the means of transference, of conveyance and the exultation of ourselves as rational and intelligible beings. But beyond the indispensable mantle that language assumes as a facet of the humanities, is an intellectual challenge in describing its impetus and momentum. The faculty of linguistics comes as a challenge to traditional school grammar, a prescriptive and rather liberal approach to language alongside its scientific orientation. Linguistics is an exploration of the vast oasis of language and its advent has foreseen paradigm-shifting implications upon the zeitgeist of academia. From advent of structuralism; language as a systematic series of linked nodes, to functionalism; language as fulfilled by its workings, linguistics has maintained a rather transformational approach to a universal phenomenon.  It was the added stances of semiotics and pragmatics that defined a discipline and an intellectual endeavor. Nevertheless, a panoply of queries remain unanswered, the great challenges to conventional wisdom in regards the origin, genesis and acquisition of language continue to direct the course of linguistics into its contemporary saga. The ascent of linguistic insight into the nature of syntactic structures, namely the ground-breaking postulations of Noam Chomsky drove language into a generative model of grammar; triggered by the instance of rules that promote well-formed sentence structure and the omission of ill-formed sentence structure via principles of competence and creativity. Such a generative grammatical model further pushed the envelope on linguistic inquisition , yet much may be speculated, given the prospect that languages of every colour and proportion share common properties. The presence of words, the modification of words, promotion of abstraction, liberation of stimulus and open-endedness remain some of the myriad common denominators of all languages. Did all languages arise as a result of common ancestry? Linguistics maintains a degree of historicism in tracing the roots and shoots of language. Much reference to the nature-nurture debate may be found among the rudiments of linguistic research, is language acquired or innate? Chomsky's

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Immanuel Kant- Messenger of the Enlightenment

'The starry heavens above me and the moral law within me'. Such is a pithy maxim of an inquiring mind, the trailblazer at the heart of the zeitgeist of the enlightenment. A revered and esteemed authority, driven by a transcendent ground of reason and intuition while revamping with vigor and passion the very foundations of philosophical thought. His tenets of universality rewrote the approach to ethics and morality while his marriage of rationalism with empiricism turned the tables on epistemic endeavor. Immanuel Kant remains an illustrious specimen of the colourful intellectual saga of the enlightenment, and while the 'starry heavens and the moral law' capture the spirit of such a legacy; the panoply of critical hypotheses and ideas captures its very essence. Most apparent of such an essence is the bipolarity of morality and epistemology, the pole of ethics and pole of knowledge that formed the greater crux of Kant's intellectual repertoire. Kant sought to transcend and revamp and to renovate via The Critique of Pure Reason but poor reception proved adverse to his odyssey of enlightenment. It was the added hurdles of rationalism and empiricism, two standpoint schools of epistemology, and the fiery debates regarding ethics that necessitated a radically new phase to the enlightenment. Kant intervened but his approach was one that refused to reduce humanity to a mechanism of reduction like Hume or Hobbes and one that declined to reduce humanity to an alleged intuition of rationality like Descartes. Kant sought his categorical imperative of maxims as a leverage towards his deontological stance on ethics; the universality of acts, the perception of others as ends rather than means and the assumption of the moral guidance of the universe as a means of equating the ethics and morality. But beside the predominance of ethics and epistemology, the aesthetic pleasure was a preponderant feature of Kant's intellectual repertoire, The Critique of Judgement laid the cornerstone for the aesthetic dimension of reality with Kant arguing the faculty of judgement as the means to experiencing such a reality with sense and purpose, purpose hinting the teleological nature of beauty. It remains conspicuous the multifaceted and cross-disciplinary foresight and insight of Kant, not solely as a result of his philosophical pursuits nor the array of intellectual works under his belt, but rather as a direct outcome of the genius at the nucleus of his dexterity and aptitude that may be ranked considerably among the trailblazers of the enlightenment. And as we continually ponder, with ever new admiration and awe the repercussions of his legacy we realise a simple premise, for as long as 'starry heavens and the moral law' remain intact and erect; what becomes of the 'earthy soil below me'? Kant may have not bequeathed a clarification but it remains the universality and rationality of his postulations that transfigured the philosophical frontier from every approachable angle...

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Islamic Philosophy- Crucible of Faith and Thought

A scholastic development of the distant past, persisting in a perennial and cosmopolitan endeavor. Driven in both form and velocity by the preponderance of the Arab element in a cohesive and seamless fashion while manifesting the finer rudiments of faith and thought in a crucible of diversity. Forged by the successive stances of the theologians, grammarians, metaphysicians and a panoply of intellectual trailblazers of every colour and aptitude, it has pushed the philosophical envelope further than ever. Commended for its radically insightful and inquisitive paradigm and critiqued as a respected body of thought, it has proved to be a matrix of wisdom and the embodiment of a grand world-view. Islamic philosophy is nothing short of rich and archetypal, the cascade of unparalleled intellectual progress as manifested by the Arab civilisation and governed by the immutable law of the Quranic scripture. Early developments foresaw the ascent of Kalam or scholastic theology that exhibited a strong association with Hellenic philosophical canons. But it was the added innovation in the faculties of Tasfir or exegesis, Fiq or Jurisprudence and much judicial decree that ordained an Islamic tradition of thought, its scripture as its pivot and its thinkers as its timeless vicegerents. Adding to this explosion of enlightenment, this 'philosophical renaissance', was the advent of metaphysics and the mystical yearning for truth and a connectivity with the divine. What is most conspicuous is both a successive and eclectic body of tradition, centered on an ever sprawling scholastic and intellectual theme. Inherently, Islamic philosophy exhibits the paradigm of a crucible; but unlike the quintessential unity of heterogeneous concepts, the crucible of Islamic philosophy proves the unity of homogeneous ideas. A melting pot where faith and thought are amalgamated and are contemplative to one another; where faith is conducive to thought and thought is conducive to faith. And at the nucleus of such a universal endeavour, were the thinkers that weaved a fine tapestry of philosophical inquisition, strung upon treatise after treatise the spirit of rationality and the nature of thought itself. It was the incubation of insight by Al-Kindi that revived the epistemic nature of knowledge and the philosophical basis to rationality and wisdom, the probing works of Al-Farabi that unveiled the teleological first cause and the neoplatonic stance of theology, the mystic exploits of Rumi that founded the ever transcendent school of mysticism, the sheer refinement of occasionalism by Al-Ghazali that revamped the conception of cause and effect. What is inherent remains the culmination of this intellectual crucible of faith and thought, the thinkers and logicians that sought the crux of knowing via the first intellect and furnished the philosophical realm with prowess and mastery. Islamic philosophy surpasses that of the blind and destitute of light, deploying a clear thinking oasis and ordaining the purity of reason and the stature of the intellect. It remains the unparalleled universal and cosmopolitan vision that defines and signifies the Islamic civilisation, people and its noble ethos...

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Optics-Physics at the Speed of Light

A luminary ray of mystique and romance. One that persists to confound and to astound, to gleam and shower all with its radiant luminosity. This familiar phenomena, bequeathed by nature and synthesised by that of man continues on a persistent basis to stagger and bewilder, not as a direct result of its refractory or reflective dynamics but rather its indispensable mantle. Light is ever ubiquitous and elementary yet the optic principles that deploy the image of a dynamic and versatile phenomenon prove paradigm-shifting. The inception of modern physics has foreseen myriad indications for optics; from the classical canons of refraction and reflection to the quantum constancy of photons to the boundless utility of lasers and optical fibre. Optics seeks the laws and axioms that drive and facilitate light; the 'bending' of a straw in a glass is a simple happening, but the mathematically sound, physically oriented and thermally dynamic explanation proposed by optics unveils a mechanism of infinite complexity and diversity. The laws of nature seem to articulate in synchrony, playing unanimously to a symphony; light remains the culmination of such a symphony, the crux of illumination and the subject of inquiry for optics. Understanding light was confined to the parameters of Newtonian particle theory until the advent of relativity and the elucidation of photons entered the scientific repertoire. It is the successive stances of optics that has redefined the approach to light and illumination, while bound by the universal laws of physics. Light is nothing short of dynamic and sprawling, it is our reduction of its form and function that has bequeathed the spectrum of electro-magnetism and forged new frontiers as to its velocity and insurmountable versatility. A preeminent instance of this versatility would be the oculi, commonly recognised as the eyes, centered on the concept of diffraction via a lens of biological tissue that warps light into a curvature prior to its conversion to nervous impulses. While the eyes may remain an inherently biological conception of light, the physics at the heart of the optic moment is both paramount and uncompromising. The advent of the lens as a sprawling optic application has reinforced the prospect of utility. Lenses, whether concave or convex, focus parallels of light rays upon a focal point in a fashion of diffraction. It remains synergy of light and the laws of physics that has surmounted gaps in understanding such dynamic phenomena and deployed a methodical means of first-hand investigation. And above all descriptors of physics and dynamics is an aesthetic pleasure that enriches the conception of light, divisible into its inherent spectrum of shades and hues; an elegant and alluring entity, abundant in beauty and charm. For all of natures laws lay hid in night, until optics was and all was light!