Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympics: Body and Mind and some other matters

Like the rest you I watch Olympics as much as I can. There is a lot of talk about the chiselled, well-built muscles, great abs and torso. Physical agility and this and that. A lot of talk about the physique of the athletes. There is no question that physical fitness matters for Olympics but it is the mind which dominates, mind matters or mind over matter.

If there is not that "single-mindedness", determination and "will" to win then it won't happen. Mind plays an extraordinary role and it rules. Yet mind is something which is invisible – it is an outcome of electrical pulses from the nervous system and brain yet in itself invisible. It is the mind which intrigues me the most.

That brings me to one of the greatest physicist/scientist of our time Stephen Hawking of Britain.

When it comes to body he is a severely disabled person but when it comes to his mind it is one of the most brilliant mind world has ever known. He is a fascinating human being. He muses sometimes about the universe and its creation. He is not a religious guru by any stretch of imagination but once in while he says some interesting things about the nature of the universe. Here are some of the quotes.

"As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe."

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 8

"One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!"

Stephen Hawking ,A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), pp. 8-9.

"If we find the answer [the unified theory], it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for we would know the mind of God." Stephen Hawking

Make whatever you may of his quotes but they do amaze one about the nature of the universe and its creation. Long before our lawyers wrote all the laws we have today to run and control human behaviour and society there were other set of definite laws, and those are the laws of nature which run the universe otherwise the whole universe could collapse and there could be a never ending big bang.

Let us look at the earth. There is a certain atmosphere, oxygen, other gases and parameters which allow the existence of life. If we break nature's laws continuously and screw it too much then we have serious problems such as global warming and life may end as we know it. Who provides these parameters and laws of nature? I do not know.

Let me give you another example. You own a house. Just go away a few weeks and leave the house alone. When you come back you may find many problems – dust all over the place, broken pipes and electrical problems. In other words this small house you live in requires constant maintenance. Does this huge universe, the known universe, where some stars and planets are trillions of light years away from us, run by itself? I don't have the answer. Just think about it.

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