Planning for the Future

I was stumbling around the internet when I came across this series of pictures. If any one of you is interested in long term investments, high return savings, that sort of thing, this is a really good view of what the coming years will bring.

future

Investment Outlook for the really meticulous planners

Click here if animation doesn’t play.

But seriously, this image had a profound effect on me. A lot of people consider themselves lucky to be living in this age of innovation, on the pinnacle of existence. And believe me, I am not ungrateful. There is Naruto and Xbox and the Grand Unified Theory, and trips to the moon and probes to Mars; there is the internet, the standard bearer of the freedom of expression, and there is Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. And most important of all there is the asymptotic ideal of liberalism that, ever so faithfully, supports one’s occasional venture into the more “contestable” realms of morality, hiding behind the slippery paradox of the ownership of the intangible.

I am, of course, talking about The Pirate Bay.

Circumlocution at its Finest

Circumlocution at its Finest

I get excited when I write about things I like. Anyways: profound effect, ok. What I was trying to say is this: when you look at the larger picture of the universe, the largest picture that you can ever picture yourself in, you realize how insignificant of a speck you are. Despite living in an age of exponential progress, there is infinitely more that you have not yet beheld. The universe has so much yet to unveil. At every point in time, mankind has perceived itself as teetering on the pinnacle of progress, having reached the absolute limit of evolution. Every time, we have been proven wrong. Perhaps it is instinctive for us to identify with an unstable equilibrium, cautious creatures that we are. And it is this tendency of ours that forces us to ignore the broader realities of nature: that its progress is eventual, inevitable and perpetual.

I thought this picture is profound not because it is humbling, but because it showed me how much I will miss. I can’t fast-forward this show, I can’t torrent re-runs. I can only hope to experience the living daylights out of an infinitesimal period in the Universe’s life; a period that in all probability might be one of the more mundane parts of the universal timeline.

Just something to think about in times of inflated optimism.

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If light travelled really slow…

The speed of light is one of the fundamental constants in the universe (along with the Gravitational constant, permitivitty etc.). Changing any constant even slightly will have deadly consequences. But if we manage to survive (somehow), we would find ourselves in a very ‘interesting’ universe.

The constant for the speed of electromagnetic waves ‘c’ has a value of 300 million metres/second. Imagine that some one hacks the universe’s secure servers and changes ‘c’ to 1. The following is a roughly chronological list of things that would happen in a universal conspiracy to end the human race:

1. We would shrivel up and die

Literally. The speed of light is directly related to the strength of electromagnetic force. This is the same force that prevents you from falling out of your house when you lean against a wall, or from falling through a chair while you are sitting. It also helps you keep you in shape while gravity is doing its best to pull you to the ground. If the speed of light were to suddenly decrease by several orders of magnitude, all matter (or most of it) would start to collapse under its own gravity. The world would literally shrink out of existence.

2. The sun would go out

Again: literally. As matter collapses under its own gravity, its gravitational pull on the surface increases and stuff like rebellious atoms and people who can afford a rocket will need higher speeds to escape a body’s gravity. Eventually the ‘escape velocity would exceed the speed of light. And since classically one cannot productively travel faster than light, including light, all matter with high escape velocities would become black holes, including the sun and the earth and all the planets in the solar system.

3. Time will s l   o    w     d       o        w          n

If by any miracle we are still alive we will notice (that’s putting it subtly) that everything has shrunk. The gravitational field will be extremely strong. And since light is so slow, our every motion will be at relativistic speeds. That means that on a jolly morning when I decide to go out for a walk, I might as well come back to my house to find it in ruins from age. In other words we wouldn’t need to wait an entire week for new episodes of our favourite shows.

4. The world will look W13rD

Take a look at these pictures:

Light captured at super high frame rates,

Light captured at super high frame rates,

Simulated reflection of light at super slow motion.

Simulated reflection of light at super slow motion.

This is what light looks like if it is slowed down. On a post-hacked universe, you could stand behind something heavy and literally make copies of yourself (gravitational lensing, kage bunshin no jutsu! for Naruto fans). Since light will bend under extreme gravity, you will be able to see whats happening on the other side of the earth, or the back of your head for that matter. You could swipe your hand through the ‘air’ and turn your palm into a black hole and deflect bullets with a wave of your hand.

All in good time. In the real world we would just stop existing the moment a single constant was changed. If all universal constants were scaled down proportionally, we might have a chance, but alas we don’t even know all of them. So why did I conjure images of a Matrix/Naruto/Avengers/ Harry Potter universe? Simple. I just got carried away.