Feature: FREEDOM OF SPEECH by 5G Victoria Kwok According to article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Rather than having me go on about the importance of freedom of speech, it may be more fitting to have a collection of quotes from famous figures, both from the East and from the West, on the inalienable right to express one’s opinion. “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” ― George Orwell “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.” ― Oscar Wilde “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” ― George Washington “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." ― Harry S. Truman, special message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” ― Voltaire
“Who dares not speak his free thought is a slave.” ― Euripides in his tragedy The Phoenician Women
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” ― John Milton in his speech ‘Areopagitica’
“It’s not unpatriotic to denounce an injustice committed on our behalf, perhaps it’s the most patriotic thing we can do.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri in his novel Brushstrokes of a Gadfly
“Without freedom of speech there is no modern world, just a barbaric one.” ― Ai Weiwei
“Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth.” ― Liu Xiaobo
“Why is the freedom of the Press so important? It is not because our newspapers are invariably literate, scrupulous and wise. They are not. It is because newspapers exist not only to protect their own freedom, but to defend the freedom of others. " ― Margaret Thatcher
"Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things." ― Ronald Reagan “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” ― Part of Article 10 of European Convention on Human Rights
Some quotes have been translated from their original language to English.
The Mobius Structure of Relationships by 6F Hampton Tao
Allow me to discover as do settlers arriving new lands as do scientists deriving new laws Allow me to delight as do settlers that explore and exploit virgin territory as do scientists that devise and deploy unregulated machinery Allow me to destroy as do settlers stumbling upon the indigenous as do scientists producing accidental Frankensteins Allow me to dismiss the cyclical nature of all this as relics of a history past to be a false notion â€“ it lasts.
(Inspired by HandDrawn Pencil Diagrams of the Human Condition in David Byrneâ€™s Arboretum)
Sherlock by 5A Sharon Ho
Lately, everyone’s obsession seems to be Sherlock. Yes, the famed Sherlock Holmes, who has been reincarnated as a guntoting ‘consulting detective’ living in the 21st century, featured in the highly acclaimed British TV series. The character played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch seems to have taken the world by storm; indeed, from his impeccable accent, to his loyalty to his friend, to his deerstalker hat, what’s not to like?
deductions, and accurately at that. Avid fans of the series would certainly remember the numerous instances in which Sherlock could basically tell someone their life story from one look at their appearance and attire. The first time that we meet Sherlock on screen, he baffles John Watson by asking him, out of nowhere, if he had served in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is revealed that, from his observation of John having tan lines on his hands with no tan
with his stance and mannerisms, Sherlock could tell that John served in the military, which led to ‘Afghanistan or Iraq’.
Yet, what seems to be most iconic about Sherlock is his uncanny ability to make
below the wrist, Sherlock could deduce that he had been abroad, but not on a holiday. Coupled
Deduction, or rather, deductive reasoning, is a logical process of reasoning, where a specific
Fans would also know that Sherlock has a blog called the Science of Deduction. His intellectual skills are so renowned that his brand of logic has been dubbed ‘Holmesian deduction’. But what exactly is deduction? Can ‘Holmesian deduction’ be strictly categorized as deduction?
conclusion is reached from general statements. Let me put forth a simple example: 1. All detectives can solve crimes 2. Sherlock is a detective 3. Therefore, Sherlock can solve crimes Also called the ‘top-down’ approach, deductive reasoning is used in the scientific method, where scientists test existing hypotheses and theories with the collection of specific experimental observations. Now, this method of logical thinking may sound not at all related to any one of us, but it is more frequently used by the average secondary school student than you would think! As a chemistry student, we understand that neon is a noble gas. Since noble gases are stable, we reach the conclusion that neon is stable. Certainly, the power of deduction is not to be underestimated, as it may very well save your life (or at least a couple of marks) come the end of term exams. Another form of reasoning is induction, frequently considered as the opposite of deduction. Contrary to deduction, inductive reasoning makes broad generalisations based on specific observations, and even though all premises may be true, the conclusion could possibly be false. Let’s say I apply inductive reasoning in the following way:
1. Sherlock is a detective 2. Sherlock can solve crimes 3. All detectives can solve crimes However, the conclusion in statement three can hardly be reached for certain, as long as there are incompetent detectives to be found. But then, one might ask: if conclusions cannot be ascertained with the use of inductive reasoning, then what is the point of it? As a matter of fact, induction plays a vital role in coming up with theories in science. Upon making specific observations, scientists may form their own hypotheses, which can then be tested using deductive reasoning. Unlike the rash conclusion to which I reached regarding Sherlock and detectives, a much larger sample size is usually used to establish statements or arguments using inductive reasoning. For instance, in an experiment, we find out that out of a sample of ten thousand students, all of them enjoy watching the Sherlock TV series. I will therefore be able to make the assumption that should I ask any other students, there is a fairly high possibility that they would also enjoy watching Sherlock. (Indeed, who wouldn’t?) In short, inductive reasoning seeks to draw conclusions based on strong evidence, and is open to uncertainty. Now, after such a long and tedious explanation on deduction and induction, let us return
to our question at hand: what is the form of reasoning used by Sherlock, either in ‘scanning’ a new acquaintance, or solving cases that manage to capture his attention? Deduction or induction? The answer is: neither. Instead, Sherlock uses abductive reasoning, which is rather like a combination of the two. After making his own precise and meticulous observations, Sherlock uses the information to make an educated guess, which paired with his massive intellect, is usually correct. Still, we have to remember that such a method is not infallible: although Sherlock is mostly correct with his analysis of John Watson at the beginning of the first episode, he does miss the fact that he has a sister instead of a brother, based on preconceived notions about genders and names. That be said, abductive reasoning is still widely used in real life situations, such as when doctors make diagnoses or when jurors make decisions in court. Therefore, now that we know how Sherlock’s great mind works, or how it fundamentally works anyway, hopefully you’ll find the series even more engaging. Who knows? By training your own abductive reasoning, you can very well end up solving your own crimes and analyzing your own acquaintances easily! At the very least, I certainly hope that it will serve to enhance our enjoyment of the series when the next episode comes out – after another agonizingly long hiatus. Sigh.
"yoU." by 6F Peter Wang
He moves towards you, slowly, awkwardly, mechanically, stiffly. A red dot instead of two eyes, two metal clamps instead of two hands, wheels instead of feet, and a whirring motor instead of a pumping heart. His single, blank laser-beam eye fixes upon you. You look into an unblinking light beam, but you see the eyes of your old pal looking at you. "Hel-lo. Re-mem-ber me?" a monotone, computer-generated voice sounds from the chest of the being before you - but, somehow, you seem to hear a shadow of your old friend's voice... In the modern world of technologies, I might venture to say one of humankind's most fervent interests lies now in robots. No matter in movies, novels, video games or cartoons, we see the recurring presence of a mechanical humanoid being. Blessed by our imagination, humanoid robots have repeatedly departed from the realm of "non-life" into that of "pseudolife", capable of more and more abilities previously attributed only to living humans, the most vital of which, I think, are perhaps emotions and selfconsciousness. I have been quite intrigued by one particular idea about robotbeings. It seems that, in our search for immortality to escape from the natural termination of living, organisms, we have arrived at a possible solution through robots. If we transpose
our mind into the head of a robot, we will then acquire a body free of biological decay and perils. Examples of our imaginations around such an idea are not uncommon, such as Portal, Halo, Cytus, and the many stories by Greg Egan. This does not stay only in fiction; neuroscientists have long considered the idea of mapping the neural wiring of brains, the "connectome", and uploading them to a mechanical "brain" and then reviving the consciousness. This idea is indeed promising, but, to me, equally disturbing. Why? Imagine this: you are going to be transferred into a robot. The scientists will record all the memories and neural circuitry in your brain, and upload them to the operating system of the robot that will soon become "you". Once the transfer is complete, your old body is then
disposed of. Then, the robot who, supposedly, is you, wakes, and says "wow, yay, now I'm a robot person." All seems smooth enough. However, can you answer me: is the robot really "you"? Has the identity "you" been "moved" into the robot? Or, has it actually been "copy-andpasted" into the robot and the old you been "deleted" (so to speak) - the identity "you" stayed in your human body, such that the robot's “consciousness” is merely a replica and "you" are actually killed in the "transfer"? The new being, with the exact same memories as you have, the exact same personalities as you have, the exact same thoughts as you would have - is it "you"? On a more general level, are two beings sharing the exact same
memories, emotions and thoughts two separate beings, or in fact one being? Let us take this beyond robots. Stem cell and cloning biotechnology have also provided us a very similar process, but without the involvement of a robot, which makes this even stranger. We can create an exact replica of you and your mind, without your aging diseases, to replace the dying you, and thus, supposedly, lengthen your life. Now, imagine (regardless of its slim possibility) a person with your name, who has the exact same genome, epigenome and proteome as you have, who knows exactly what you know, whose memories are exactly the same as yours, who looks exactly as you look, who thinks exactly the way you do, who behaves exactly as you behave, who fares exactly as well as you do in different tasks, who feels the emotions exactly that you feel... is that person "you"? What if we answer "yes"? But then, you would not know of anything that will happen to the new "you". Yes, the two "you"s just seem identical on the out-
side, but you (the original one) will actually certainly perceive that you are dead. Instead of closing your eyes and trusting that you will be conscious again in the world moments later, you will more likely think that some new being will be there to continue your life, but you will be dead. Your body including the brain after the transfer can be, for example, crushed then in-
cinerated; it is rather difficult to say that, after that, "you" are still "alive". Besides, you can, moreover, totally stare at a conscious robot-you and talk to him/her (even if we do not allow it to happen). The two beings are independent. And we are not yet getting to the fact that we can easily create multiple copies of you; so will there be several "you"s at the same time? Some of you might think the answer is easily a "no". A likely reason is: the beings are separate objects, no matter how
they seem alike. They separate "things" in the universe. However, such argument would cause the identity of "you" to be discontinued within your life. Every person's cells are killed via apoptosis (and other pathways) and regenerated throughout his or her life, naturally. The atoms that constitute you when you were born are entirely different from those that are now in you, and the atoms in your body will certainly be entirely replaced again within a decade. If a being's identity is defined by its substance, then we can also say every person is gradually killed within a few years, and repeatedly becoming new, separate identities that are not "you". Having a new body of cells to replace you in the "transfer" should be the same as having your body of cells replaced naturally regularly all the time, no? I guess another way of supporting a "no" is by arguing that, there are certainly two, not one, "consciousnesses" or, more vaguely termed, "minds". In such argument, identity is defined by consciousness, which
should be defined as "instances of the state of chains of selfaware thoughts" (instead of simply "the state of self-aware thoughts", since that would be insufficient to support a "no". The two beings have the exact same state, but they do not continue into each other). However, there have been countless cases of unconsciousness, from those who are "zoned out", to the unfortunate people who enter a persistent vegetative state. Their consciousnesses have all been truncated, and, if fortunate, they may become conscious again. However, they are now another "person" by that argument; a sequence of consciousness ending and another starting in a body is hardly different from one person dying and another starting his/her life. Whoops. So what should be the answer to the questions? I'm not going to give you these questions and just go, cruelly leaving you in confusion purgatory. Guess what, I'm going to, well, give you even more questions. But hopefully, these questions, alongside some other questions that I'm sure you've formed when reading this, will help us to ponder this deeper. Since we are arguing the concept of the identity, we should first determine this: What are you? What am I? (note that the word is "what", not simply "who") Let's say we answer: a person. Then what is a "person"? Is there a difference between the concepts "person"
and "human"? If yes, what is the difference? Is a person always a human, and is a human always a person? Is being a person part of being a human, or is being a human part of being a person, or neither? This issue can be brought to quite a large range of situations, and different answers may result from each: When we experience things in our dreams, the consciousness is "you", but your body is surely not experiencing them itself. To what extent is our own identity retained in our dreams? Every day we wake up again to continue our lives. However, is the "you" who woke really the person who slept? Or, did you actually inherit the memories of somebody who ended his/her life yesterday? How can I know I am the person I remember myself to be (regardless of the accuracy of memory) yesterday, that I am not a clone who has someone else's memories injected into my mind? Suppose if someone dies, but, without informing others about his death, somehow we collect information from every person's memories about him and conjure a new being. To what extent is this being, formed from a collage of other's memories, a being with no apparently differ-
ent external image, the original person? To others, nothing would seem to have changed and happened, but, to that person who died, there is obviously a big difference. In the parallel universe theory, there are infinite replicas of each of us in separate universes, differentiated by the experiences each has and the decisions each makes. A divergence of possibilities would spawn a range of outcomes in each respective universe. Then, are such replicas of somebody one person or multiple people? Before the divergence of events, are they considered one or separate beings? If we argue the latter, does that imply one being can split into two or more beings simply by our decisions? Unfortunately, I will not and cannot offer definite answers. Anyways, if your mind is by now messed up, please find comfort in the fact that these issues don't really affect our daily lives. Some of you, though, may think the points in this article are ridiculous or trivial. Nonetheless, my intention here is not to argue any viewpoints, but simply to make you think and ask a little more today. Hope you enjoyed!
The Dangers of Energy by 6G Zachariah Lee The detonation of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 ushered the world into what came to be known as the atomic age, and the specter of nuclear crisis has loomed large over humanity ever since. Despite what the Cold War hype might have one believe, much of the innovation in the field after the war has in fact been focused on harnessing nuclear energy in a safe and controlled fashion, with its fair share of successes. Yet, the fear of nuclear energy remain deeply ingrained in the social consciousness, as the figurative ‘Godzilla’ of nuclear paranoia continues its radiation-fueled rampage through the hearts and minds of the fearful public. For those of us who hoped all the talk of mutated monstrosities and postfallout apocalypses was strictly limited to popular culture, it seems the Fukushima incident has proved that these anxieties are just as prevalent in general society. The fact of the matter is that the statistics-illiterate public evaluates issues like nuclear energy on a basis of fear rather than fact – and fear is something that the media moguls and the fossil fuel industry are all too eager to provide. Even environmental groups have a vested interest, as every nuclear-related incident that they over-sensationalize
translates into more attention, manpower and donations from anxious protestors. People are scared because they do not understand the invisible yet potent source of power that is nuclear energy, and the entities which profit from such fear-mongering see little reason to change the status quo. So why don’t we stop to take a little look at the facts? You can easily tell whether an anti-nuclear activist has done their homework by what they say about nuclear energy. The recently-initiated will gesticulate about the pending catastrophe in which a nuclear plant invariably ‘explodes’ and grotesque creatures rises from the bowels of the earth to consume humanity. The more sophisticated will point to the long-term health risks posed by a nuclear accident, while the truly educated will ponder upon the problems of cost and nuclear waste. Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room – the socalled health risks of nuclear energy. Case in point: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear ‘disaster’, or so the Wiki page on the incident proclaims. It might come as a surprise that, amidst a magnitude 9 earthquake which resulted in more than ten thousand casualties, radiation exposure from the nuclear meltdowns at Daiichi
has claimed a grand total of zero lives to date – even including front-line emergency workers. Experts at the WHO predict (and with radiationinduced cancer, predictions are all we have) that, for all the reports on ‘lethal’ doses, the Daiichi incident will cause “no measurable increase in the cancer rate for the general population of Fukushima prefecture or for the world beyond”. Indeed, what with everyone loading up on potassium iodide tablets, iodine overdose and other side effects begin to overshadow cancer as significant health risks. What about the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, long considered the poster child of the anti-nuclear movement? That disaster, one of the only two Level 7 events on the International Nuclear Event scale together with Fukushima, caused 64 confirmed deaths in the immediate incident and is estimated to have resulted in between 4000 and 60,000 cancer deaths in the years since. That sounds terrible, but safety is a relative concept. To understand the true costs of nuclear energy, one must consider the costs of its direct competitors e.g. coal, which arguably bring even greater damage.
Depending on who you ask… • The coal industry kills upwards of a million people each year (not including global warming). It has caused more deaths than over 200 Chernobyl incidents each year. • The failure of the hydroelectric Banqiao Dam in China in 1975 alone killed an estimate 170,000 people, more than all nuclear-related incidents combined • Permanent displacement of civilians to clear area for inefficient renewable energy plants have affected upwards of 80 million people, again outnumbering all evacuations due to nuclear incidents I do not intend to devalue the bravery and sacrifices made by the emergency workers who did not hesitate to participate in the response effort at Fukushima, nor the fear and suffering endured by those who lived near the nuclear complex – and certainly there will be cancer victims within this population decades down the line. However, compared to both the present coal-based industry and the proposed renewable energy fad, nuclear energy is a far safer and efficient solution. Yet I hear you ask, if nuclear energy is really that harmless, what went wrong in Fukushima? In a word: poor planning, before and after the incident. The power plants that suffered meltdowns in Daiichi
were Generation II or older, which lacked the passive coolant systems that could have prevented the meltdown. Their storage tanks were sealed with rubber instead of being welded together, another oversight that contributed to the radiation leakage. The funds that might have upgraded these facilities to acceptable modern standards was diverted because nuclear energy remained a controversial and politically-unpopular topic. Thus, a vicious cycle is formed where the suspicious public refused to spend large sums of money on an energy source that they never fully trusted, and in turn had their fears confirmed when the outdated equipment they neglected failed in the face of a record-breaking (read: rare) natural disaster. As it stands, the new Generation III plants in the nearby Fukushima Daiini survived the earthquake just fine. What’s more, TEPCO (i.e. the management behind Daiichi) made a complete farce of themselves in their response to the incident. There is a saying in politics that making a mistake is forgivable, but covering it up is not. TEPCO apparently missed that lesson, since they repeatedly released inaccurate reports in an attempt to cover up the true scope of the incident, while the fact that government regulators were too close to the company itself allowed TEPCO to get away with this in the early months of the crisis. By the time the government stepped in, the damage
was done and the public was in uproar, looking for something to blame. The lesson to take away here is that the Fukushima ‘disaster’ is not an example of the perils of nuclear energy, but rather the unfortunate meeting of human mistakes and the forces of nature. The damage caused by the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima or even Chernobyl is vastly overshadowed by the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, and even more eclipsed by the damage caused each year by the present coal and oil industry. If not for the runaway success experienced by the coal industry PR departments, we would not be afraid of these pictures…
… but of these…
The problem of nuclear energy has already been solved technologically ages ago, and now it’s time for the politicians and the public to catch up, because ignorance is something the fossil fuel industry could not be happier about. Lastly, I’ll leave you with some fun facts to chew on: •
In summary, the continued opposition by a scientificallyilliterate public to nuclear energy has cost millions of lives, and may even cost us our planet. The only true problem facing nuclear energy nowadays is public relations. Nuclear waste is a bygone issue, when vitrification (i.e. storing in glass) and deep geological storage are scientificallyverified and cost-effective solutions to long-term waste management. Nuclear safety is a bygone issue, when Generation III nuclear plants promise greater efficiency and safety even in the event of complete power loss. Cost is a bygone issue, when much of the bill in nuclear power plant construction is actually insurance, demanded by those who have unrealistic fears concerning nuclear safety.
Coal ash, the byproduct produced by the tonnes in coal power plants, is even more radioactive than nuclear energy, while heavy metals and other toxic wastes are permanently dangerous (since they do not decay and have no half-lives). Yet, we simply store that waste in open landfills The most dangerous nuclear isotopes are those that release the most radioactive emissions at the faster rate; by definition, this also means they have the shortest half-lives. This means the really lethal stuff becomes harmless in a very short time, while the stuff that is reported to hang around for millions of years is actually the safest. The natural radioactivity of the world’s oceans is over 15,350,000 PBq; the total radioactivity of all nuclear waste ever
dumped in the oceans in 85 PBq. In other words, decades of unregulated waste dumping has contributed approximately nothing to oceanic radiation levels. Coal power producers do not have to pay for the cost of lung diseases, heavy metal poisoning, etc. caused by their industry. In contrast, nuclear power producers pay for everything from damages to people affected by meltdowns (e.g. TEPCO in Fukushima) and waste disposal costs, to plant decommissioning and insurances. No wonder nuclear plants are prohibitively expensive…
All in all, now would be a good time for everyone to wake up to the realities of our energy industries.
Is there a ghost in my room?
by 5A Nikki Chow Have you ever woken up with the feeling that you are falling? I often experienced this when I was younger. I remember telling a friend about it and being told that it was done by a ghost in my room. Naive and shocked, I believed her and refused to sleep in my own room for quite some time. Not until recently have I found that this is an extremely common though largely unknown sleeping phenomenon known as the “hypnic jerk” or “hypnagogic myoclonic”. Hypnic jerk is an involuntary muscle movement that often occurs in the first stage of sleep, which is the transition between a wakeful and sleeping state.
Although up till now, experts still haven’t figured out the real cause behind this phenomenon, most of them agree that this is a natural part of the sleeping process, similar to slower breathing and a reduced heartbeat. “Hypnic jerk” happens most commonly when one is falling asleep. Most researchers have come up with a consensus that when one is falling asleep, your muscles will begin to relax. When those relaxation signals are sent to the brain, the brain may misinterpret this as “falling down”. As a result, the brain will send signals through numerous neurons in your body to the muscles in your arms and legs to contract. Your muscles
will in turn twitch to jerk your body back upright so as to prevent you from “falling”. Some scientists even believe that this violent jerking movement is our bodies’ attempt to keep us alive. It is believed that occasionally the brain, especially when fatigued, may confuse sleep with death, therefore activating our body’s emergency “stay alive” mechanisms. Hence, a person who experience more serious hypnic jerking will not only have the sensation of free-falling but will also experience intense twitching which looks similar to the twitching of one’s body while it is dying. This also explains why people awake from hypnic jerks are often in a state of panic or anxiety.
“Hypnic jerk” is especially common among people who have emotional stress, sleep anxiety, fatigue and discomfort. These factors cause one to have difficulty in falling asleep. Deprived of sleep causes one’s muscles and brain to malfunction, ie. when your muscles are trying to relax and go into a restful state, your brain will still remain awake and continue to create misinterpretations of falling, resulting in “hypnic jerk”. It is true that in almost all cases, hypnic jerks pose no immediate danger or health concerns. However, they can become cyclical if you worry about them too much. Because when you start worrying about having hypnic jerks, it is very likely that you may get less sleep as a result, which causes your brain to become more fatigued. Therefore, you may experience hypnic jerks more frequently.
Conclusion: No – there isn’t a ghost. It’s just you and your brain.
If you do not wish to wet your pants because of panicking over “free-falling” and mess up your bed, first and foremost, you should try to relax and not go to bed thinking about them. You are also strongly advised to stay away from caffeine before you sleep, so that you can have a good night’s sleep, which allows your brain to have sufficient rest.
I’m innocent… this time.
Ideology and ideological confrontations by 5D Jovi Cheng What is an “ideology”? Ideology has no history? The term “ideology” has been commonly cited and used yet rarely defined in a precise manner nor has a single, adequate definition. This is predominantly due to the fact that it is a term which compresses a wealth of meanings and is embedded with various conceptual strands which makes it difficult and perhaps, too flexible a term to frame it with a certain definition. Notwithstanding that Louis Althusser, a famous Marxist philosopher argued that ideology is “external to history”, established books and papers discussing the analytical definition of ideology require historical evidence to support since its meaning diverged in different eras. Nevertheless, there are still some globally circulated and agreed definitions: 1) The process of production of meanings, signs and values in social life;
2) Ideas which help to legitimize a dominant political power; 3) False ideas which help to legitimize a dominant political power.
Importance and significance of ideology While the quest of the definition seems too complicated, vague and dull, people may question the need to discuss or analyze the definition of such an abstract term. Does ideology still matter nowadays when we are not placed under the rule of a dictator? As a preliminary step to answer the question, we should first realize the paramount importance of ideology to us. In order not to complicate the discussion, we can try to narrow it down into different spectrums. In the political spectrum, ideology offers some political and
cultural blueprint for social structure and order. Political ideologies are concerned with education, health care, the economy and even the law and judicial system. Political ideology and government ideology are deeply entwined with each other, as government ideology is developed when a political ideology becomes a dominantly pervasive component within a government, which can be considered an ideocracy (Jaroslaw Piekalkiewicz, Alfred Wayne Penn, Politics of ideocracy). Utilization of ideologies differs, depending on the forms of government and is not restricted to political and social. Certain ideas or ruling methods will be favoured or rejected since they may not be compatible with reigning social order. Apart from the commonly known political ideologies, there are also epistemological ideologies used to study the relationship between living things on earth. The study of ideology also provokes psychological re-
search, which suggests that ideologies reflect (unconscious) motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking. Some research also proposed that ideologies may function as prepackaged units of interpretation that spread because of basic human motives to under-stand the world, avoid existential threat, and maintain valued interpersonal relationships (Jost, John T., Ledgerwood, Alison, & Hardin, Curtis D. (2008). Shared reality, system justification, and the relational basis of ideological beliefs. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2,171-186).
Ideological confrontations When ideologies come into conflict? The influence of ideologies is immeasurable and is an inseparable part of our daily lives and cultures. After realizing the paramount importance and implication of ideology on humanity, here comes another question: what happens when ideologies come into conflicts?
Almost inevitably, people will quote the example of cold war as ideological confrontation is one of the main features which make the war so distinctive. President Truman once made a speech about the difference between capitalism and communism, the two prevailing conflicting ideologies in the cold war era (1947): “One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.” Ideological confrontation can be a form of war since any active hostility or struggle between living beings and (or) a conflict
between opposing forces or principles can be used to define war which avoids the narrowness of a political-rationalist conception by admitting the possibility of metaphorical, nonviolent clashes between systems of thoughts. The aforementioned speech serves as an illustration of the strained relationship between the Communist and Capitalist block, which is due to the mistrust arising from ideological difference. It is pretty obvious that ideology is one of the determinants of formulating foreign policies and ideological fear, coupled with military aggression of both America and Russia, led to the outbreak of cold war. In the meantime, there are analysts which predict the “new cold war” in the future. It is disappointing yet true that ideological difference is still the stumbling block to building and strengthening diplomatic relationships between countries. We cannot possibly have everyone on earth believing in the same ideology in order to attain world peace. The only spirit we can hold on to is multiculturalism, social plurality and faith in humanity and human rights such that there is light at the end of the tunnel of despair.
What is the difference, if any, between ruling by the law and the rule of law? by 5F Faith Yeung Many countries, including the United Kingdom, has a system of rule of law where the law surpasses all forms of power existing in a country and gives no legal privileges to the government nor authorities. On the other hand, communist countries such as North Korea and the Nazi government in the Second World War ruled by law, where law was used as an instrument for the government to effectively suppress their citizens and further their political agendas. Although it is obvious that these two systems would have many differences, they also contain similarities in terms of their functions. In the following paragraphs, I will be discussing three distinct dif-ferences and one similarity between the two systems. Firstly, let us discuss the idea of legal certainty and flexibility. In a system where the government rules by law, the law is often subject to alterations according to the whims of authority. For
example, in China’s 1982 State Constitution, it proclaims that its citizens have Four Big rights: to speak out freely, air views fully, hold great debates, and write big-character posters.
However, four years later, the government abolished such rights from the constitution in fear of the arising of criticism
for the government. This rapid change of constitution for the benefit of the government certainly does not support the fact that China claims herself to be a country under “rule of law”. On the contrary, this lack of legal certainty in a country for citizens to plan their lives around a stable constitution is one of the biggest differences between rule of law and rule by law. In the United Kingdom, the rule of law implies that citizens have stable statutes and binding precedents to take reference from when they are planning their actions such that they would not have to suffer from criminal punishment. However, citizens in countries like China and North Korea are given no assurance that the “law” they are closely adhering to would keep them from criminal punishment since their actions, although “legal” might offend the government and would still result in criminal punishment since the govern-ment has the power to
bend and create laws at its discretion. Hence, in a system of rule of law, citizens are adhering to a certain stable set of rules whereas in a system of rule by law, citizens are striving to adhere to the ideologies of the government instead of the law. Of course, there exists a negative relationship between legal certainty and flexibility of a legal system. As there is a high legal certainty in United Kingdom’s rule of law, there is an extremely low flexibility for the law to change under different contexts. For example, article 3 of the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act clearly states that no humans should be subject to torture or inhumane treatment. So if a defendant was tortured by the police in order to obtain crucial evidence to prove that he is guilty of murder, the evidence obtained would not be used in court to convict the defendant even if it clearly points to the fact that he is guilty. In a system of rule of law, the law surpasses all moral judgments of the society and even of the court so it would not be possible to disregard article 3 because society and “facts” deem the defendant guilty. Thus, in order to create coherence in the rule of law, the law cannot be subject to sudden changes due to the varying perception of the judge or society. On the other hand, in a system where the government rules by law, the law is highly flexible to changes since the government has more power than the law and is merely
using it as an instrument to maintain order in the society. Therefore, if a Chinese person releases compositions that allude to complaints about the government, the Chinese government can easily amend the law to include such compositions in the list of materials that affect social order. Hence, in relation to legal certainty, flexibility of laws is also a difference between rule of law and rule by law. Secondly, there are also evident procedural differences between rule of law and rule by law that involves the idea of equality before the law. For example, in a system of rule of law, every single person, regardless of their position in the society or the magnitude of the crimes they are being charged for, should be entitled to a fair and open trial before being convicted. However, defendants under a system of rule by law would often be convicted without a trial once authorities gather enough evidence to charge them. Here, “evidence” is not always facts; rather, they often include the subjective assumptions of government authorities. Citizens who have lower positions in the social hierarchy or has committed a serious crime would not have a chance to defend themselves in front of the court, thus, this is what we call inequality before the law. A famous representation of the unfair treatment of citizens under rule by law would be the massacre of Jewish people by the Nazis in the Second World War. The truck-loads of Jews
being transported to their deaths in concentration camps were given no reason for their punishments aside from their ethnicity and they were definitely deprived of a chance to be fairly represented in court. Thirdly, when we consider the separation of powers in countries, there is also a difference under rule of law and rule by law. Under rule of law in the United Kingdom, there is a clear separation of power between the executive, judiciary and legislature such that these three bodies can keep each other’s power in check as the law has the ultimate power to control these authorities. However, if law is merely used as an instrument by the government under rule by law, then the court would have no power of using the law to keep in check the power of the government and an abuse of power would occur. For example, in a system of rule of law, police officers who are supposed to have executive power do not possess the discretion to acquit or convict anyone before sending them to the court for a fair trial. However, under rule by law, since the government has the ultimate power over the law, executive members may often abuse their power to make decisions that are not in accordance to the law but to their personal judgments. Although one might argue that in many cases, including that of the United Kingdom, the government may have influence over the parliament, resulting in an overall control of the law.
Nevertheless, under the system of rule of law, the creation or amendment of a law has to undergo a complicated series of discussion and enquiries involving the public. Thus, it is much more difficult, even infeasible, for the executive to exercise their discretion in the process of judging cases when compared to the system of rule by law. Having discussed three distinct differences between the rule of law and the rule by law, it would seem that they are two entirely different systems due to their different natures – one being the ruler and the other being an instrument used by the ruler(s). However, when we look at the role of law in society under these two systems, there are instances when their functions seem to coincide. As mentioned at the start of this essay, under rule by law, many leaders may be using law to further their political agendas. Again, using
China as an example, their want of an absolutely obedient population has induced them to use the law to abolish freedom of speech and ensure a “harmonious” society. Surely, similar inci-dents would not appear in countries with a system of rule of law? Apparently, we have been misled by the phrase “rule of”. It is evident that governments would propose laws to the parliament that are in accordance to their political views. An example would be the Prime Minister David Cameron’s campaign against children pornography online. Recently, the Prime Minister has been urging internet companies to remove child pornography online and warned that legislation would follow if companies do not comply. Clearly, controversies would arise on whether this affects the freedom of speech and the freedom to receive information of the people in the United Kingdom. Hence, just because the legislation has to go
through the parliament and public enquiries does not mean that the law is not used here to further certain aspects of the agenda of the conservative party. Therefore, when we consider the overall effect of law on these two systems, it is not difficult to identify the similarity that law would ultimately represent the view of the government, even though under the rule of law, legislation is a much more open and inclusive process. Ultimately, despite the procedural and substantive differences between the systems of rule of law and rule by law, both systems actually use law as a similar instrument to maintain order in the country and promote their own political ideologies.
What can we do with our minds alone? by 4A Karen Wong We’ve always heard stories of how shamans or healers place only their hands on their patients, and how the patients continue on to make miraculous recoveries. Do the healers have power within them to turn the diseased cells of patients into healthy ones, or does the body itself have the innate ability to restore and recuperate from debilitating conditions with little
external help? I would say yes to the latter, and a large part of this is attributed to the condition of the body believing that it
has been given a cure – the placebo effect. If you watch prime time television, you would have seen the television show ‘Derren Brown: Fear and Faith’. In the episode, participants of an experiment are given a new type of drug ‘Rumyodin’ which is said to eradicate fear. All four participants originally have
lingering fears, no matter it being heights, conversing with strangers or singing in public. After taking the drug, the results vary, from
almost immediate eradication of the fear to a failure to overcome it. Finally it is revealed to all that Rumyodin is a blue capsule containing nothing more than plain sugar. As you can see, the placebo effect is an observable positive change in health or behaviour not attributable to medication or treatment. It is interesting to note
that the placebo pill was given not only to people who wanted to overcome their fears, but also to those who had allergies, such as hay fever and dermatitis. After taking the placebo pill, pa-
tients showed significant reduction in their symptoms, and one even fully recovered. It is common to think that the placebo works only on psychological problems, but this shows it may even have a measurable effect on physiological troubles as well.
Without consuming a single drop of alcohol, all participants showed signs of inebriation, such as erratic and unpredictable behaviour, and even after the researchers revealed the truth, one particular student continued to feel giddy and disoriented.
One may argue that these recoveries are not due to the placebo effect, that it simply proves that medication is unnecessary as patients would have recovered from the illness by themselves. To separate the two possibilities, researchers often use another control group, people who receive no treatment at all, in addition to the placebo group. If the placebo group has a better outcome than its counterpart, the placebo can be proven to be effective.
Therefore, the placebo effect can be very effective, but then again, 'Rumyodin' is merely an anagram of 'your mind'. The eradication of fears and the healing of illnesses are probably due to nothing more than
There are also more humorous ways to prove the existence of the placebo effect. For example, the National Geographic Channel once aired an experiment, asking a group of college students to get drunk to measure their confidence levels. The researchers then switched the contents of bottles of wine and beer for non-alcoholic drinks.
the beliefs that make it work. And so, what we can do with our minds is nothing short of astonishing and miraculous. Each of us actually has the innate psychological ability to achieve dramatic changes in our lives â€“ whether it is overcoming an addiction to smoking, or a crippling fear of insects - if we believe.
Are Liberal Democracies Suitable for Non-Western Cultures? by Ryan Tang (alumnus) Since 1945, the world has broadly accepted, at least in theory, the principle that democracy is the only legitimate form of government and that all human beings are endowed with certain fundamental human rights. By combining these two concepts together, liberal democracy has not only become increasingly widespread globally, but there is also a widespread consensus that it needs to be put in place in other parts of the world where alternative forms of government still exists. However, notwithstanding most countries’ theoretical commitment to both civic liberties and democracy (indeed, even the most egregiously authoritarian regimes in the world such as North Korea finds it necessary to endow their constitutions with the trappings of democracy), there has also been a global backlash against what has been seen in some quarters as the imposition of ‘alien’ or ‘Western’ values on other cultures that are supposedly illsuited to democracy. Not only has a raft of rogue states and dictators endorsed these views, but many prosperous and stable Asian countries have also championed their own Asian values over liberal democracy. The big
question here is: Is there any merit to the argument that liberal democracies are inherently unsuitable for non-Western cultures? At first glance, a brief examination of the history of postcolonialism which saw departing colonial powers impose some form or another of liberal democracy in their former dependencies would seem to confirm this view. Arguably, liberal democracy has facilitated tribal and ethnic conflicts in many newly independent nations across the developing world, leading to tragic consequences. In Nigeria, political parties rapidly became dominated by tribal interests, making a mockery of the democratic process and ensuring that elections be-
came little more than an elaborate exercise of determining which combinations of ethnic groups could seize power and distribute largesse to their people. Not surprisingly, within 5 years of independence disgruntled soldiers had launched a coup d’etat and overthrown the increasingly venal and violent political elite. Likewise, almost everywhere in Africa, democratic elections were marked by endemic political violence and ethnic hatred. Indeed, the Kenyan presidential election of 2007 resulted in over 1300 deaths as the Kalenjin opponents of the incumbent Kikuyu President Kibaki attacked their rivals after a disputed election marked by irregularities on both sides. In fact, many other regions of the world have also faced similar
problems. The Iraqi constitution introduced by the Americans after the downfall of Sadamn Hussein was broadly democratic, yet Iraq remains chronically divided by ethnic and sectarian tensions between the Kurds,
ance of abstract rights that are supposedly inalienable, e.g. freedom of speech or religion, yet these rights are of little significance and value to people who may not have enough to eat on a daily basis. Since an auth-
series of strong leaders, including Deng Xiao Ping in China, Mahathir Mohammed in Malaysia and Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, these countries developed a strong manufacturing sector by investing in infrastruc-
Sunnis and Shiites. For the average Iraqi, whereas the Hussein years were marked by stability and peace despite heavy repression, the post-2003 period saw heavy violence and ethnic cleansing that arguably made their lives more miserable and difficult. Clearly, the oft-cited argument that Africa and the Middle East are ‘unsuitable’ for democracy does have a certain element of truth to it and it is regrettable that the imported institutions of liberal democracy have been used to sustain and perpetuate deep-seated tribal divisions in such a way.
oritarian regime with a powerful executive is institutionally more capable of taking strong and sometimes unpopular decisions than democracies with a clearcut separation of powers, strong pressure groups and competing political parties, many developing countries have concluded that liberal democracy is a luxury they cannot afford. Indeed, these views are not just held by the political elite but in many cases by the majority of the population as well. Over the last few decades, many authoritarian regimes in Asia have successfully modernised their economies and lifted millions of their citizens out of poverty. Countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia and China all became major global economic powers before (or indeed without) democratisation. Under a
ture and providing abundant cheap labour, later moving into high-end service sectors. Singapore is arguably the shining example for this model of economic growth with one of the world’s highest GDP per capita and a clean and competent government despite continued oneparty rule since 1965. In contrast, those Asian countries which have remained committed to multi-party democracy for much of this period have failed to attain comparable rates of economic growth. The Philippines, one of the wealthiest Asian countries in 1960, now heavily relies on remittances from migrant workers in the Gulf, Hong Kong and Singapore. India’s dysfunctional Parliament has failed to invest in infrastructure and remains beholden to powerful groups of industrialists
Apart from leading to political violence and instability, liberal democracy has also been criticised for failing to promote economic growth. It is all very well for us to proclaim the import-
and peasants that have blocked essential reforms and further liberalisation. Indeed, the contrast between India and China is often remarked upon by investors today, with the former continuing to deliver much lower rates of growth due to bureaucracy, inefficiency, corruption and poor infrastructure. Of course, China also faces the same problems, yet the Communist Party in Beijing has arguably been more successful in controlling them and combating poverty than a succession of weak administrations in India. The structural and institutional advantages that authoritarian regimes have in terms of boosting growth bolsters the argument that liberal democracy is perhaps not the best system of government for all countries in the world.
perior in building roads and bridges and guaranteeing law and order, yet there are structural factors that ultimately inhibit sustainable long-term growth in many cases. Firstly, an illiberal regime is by definition inclined towards closeddoor decision making and unaccountability, meaning that patronage and nepotism is far more prevalent than in a democracy where government appointments have to be con-ducted openly and are in many cases subject to legislative approval. Secondly, the rule of law and an independ-
However, these arguments frequently fail to deliver a balanced picture of the situation today. In particular, the apologists for Lee Kuan Yew and/or the Chinese Communists often display a misunderstanding of the factors that truly benefit the people. Firstly, liberal democracies are in many respects superior to other forms of government in terms of encouraging growth. Any company that wishes to invest in a new market will have to consider a wide range of factors, including transparency, the efficiency of the government, the state of the infrastructure, the rule of law and political stability. Authoritarian regimes may in the short-term be su-
ent judiciary are crucial to maintaining confidence among investors, yet most countries that don’t have genuine democracy also have a judiciary that are not truly independent of the government. Moreover, a lack of political and personal freedoms often encourages the brightest young people in a country to escape and work abroad, leading to a brain drain that deprives developing countries of the professionals and entrepreneurs they need in order to transit to a developed economy. Thus, as countries transition from a developing country into a middleincome country, pressure for democratisation rapidly increases because of the inherent
economic problems of trying to promote further economic growth without political liberalisation. Returning to the East Asian tiger economies, it is worth noting that while South Korea and Taiwan all successfully developed an industrial base under strong authoritarian leaders, the development of a globally competitive high-tech and service sector did not take place until democratisation had taken root. Moreover, economic development alone does not fully reflect people’s standard of living. In many authoritarian regimes around the world, the fruits of economic growth have been very unevenly spread. African countries such as Liberia, or Equatorial Guinea all have abundant natural resources, yet they are also some of the world’s poorest countries. In particular, the latter has a high GDP per capita on paper, yet its Human Development Index (HDI) score is abysmal, reflect-ing the reality that this small island state’s oil revenues have been used to enrich the ruling Nguemo dynasty and their cronies while public services have deteriorated in quality and the majority of the population continue to live at a subsistence level. This is merely an extreme example of the dangers of economic growth without political liberalisation; in such cases an elite unaccountable to the public have the opportunity to enrich
themselves without necessarily improving government services or combating poverty and inequality in society. Of course, many liberal democracies including the UK also face serious issues of income and social inequality, yet the problem is far more severe in those countries where policy makers do not need to justify their decisions and explain the sources of their private wealth to the public if they want to remain in power. In recent years, even Singapore is dealing with unprecedented levels of inequality as it has become increasingly clear that the family and friends of Mr Lee have benefited enormously from 40 years of rapid growth whereas the majority of the population has not seen significant improvements in their standards of living for years. Arguably, if Singapore were to adopt a truly democratic system in which the opposition could compete on equal terms with the government, the plight of the working class would receive greater attention from policy makers. The newly democratised states of Eastern and Central Europe have managed to pursue a more sustainable path of development and maintain a reasonable safety net for their citizens compared to Russia. Russia exemplifies the problems that seemingly prosperous authoritarian states face, with wealth massively concentrated in the hands of a few oligarchs, social services virtually non-existent in large parts of the country and an allpervasive mafia with deep links to the security services. Whereas the tiny Baltic states have trans-
formed themselves into modern liberal democracies along the European model, much of Russia outside of the major cities remain desperately backwards and impoverished.
governments in Pakistan, global peace and stability is clearly illserved by the continuing existence of illiberal regimes that are often run by paranoid and delusional dictators.
Finally, one dimension of this debate that has frequently been ignored is the wider issue of global security and peace. In recent years, politicians and academics have agreed that liberal democracies are far better at resolving their differences peacefully than other types of states. Far from empowering hyper-nationalists and extremists, democracy actually promotes a broader view of the world among ordinary people that allows them to recognise the similarities they share with their neighbours. By encouraging citizens to feel that they have a stake in the system, they are much more likely to be concerned about promoting economic growth and prosperity than become embroiled in nationalist disputes. In contrast, dictators around the world frequently find it necessary to invoke nationalist rhetoric to legitimise their rule, especially if they have no other ideology left to justify their continued existence. From Idi Aminâ€™s invasion of Tanzania that resulted in his downfall to the deliberate sabrerattling over Kashmir by successive military
The 20th century saw much bloodshed and destruction, yet it also saw the extension of the concept of liberal democracy to all parts of the world. The apologists for dictatorships around the world are deluded if they truly think that the regimes they defend are promoting economic growth and upholding law and order. In the 21st century, these dinosaurs of a bygone era are merely enriching themselves and their cronies at the expense of billions of people all over the world. Democracy might not be perfect, and indeed many elected politicians can be just as incompetent or venal as a tyrant, but ultimately they will be punished by the people for their mistakes. The age of divine sun kings is over, and it is time that their heirs recognise this and abandon their monopoly on power.
Education in ‘The Mill on the Floss’ by George Eliot by Sydney Lam (alumnus) The Mill on the Floss, published in 1860, is considered the most successful and artistic work which marks the great talents of George Eliot, a renowned novelist in the nineteenth century Britain.
well as classical studies and neglected sciences and other humanities. State involvement
In an 1860 issue of the Saturday Review, a reviewer commented that The Mill on the Floss, in comparison to Eliot's earlier novel Adam Bede, ‘shows "no falling off nor any exhaustion of power"’, which can be fully exemplified in Eliot’s master skills in giving a general account on the education of children from farmer families in the contemporary. Eliot commenced her writing of the novel in 1859. Before the enactment of the Elementary Education Act in 1870, most schools were run by religious bodies, in particular the Established Church, which emphasised on religious education as
in the provision of free and high quality education was little, and most private schools were tailor-made for kids from wealthy
families. Despite the curriculum reform of grammar schools in the 1840 Grammar School Act, which has included literature in formal lessons, many schools at that time still adopted a conservative approach in teaching. It is hard to estimate the exact figure of school children coming from labour families. Common schools were often ragged and of mere quality, and the primary objective of such education entities was to teach their students to ‘read’ the Bible. There were some free Sunday Schools, some of which patronised by philanthropists, but the learning environments and scope of teaching were quite poor. To put it simply, education was stagnant, inactive and prejudiced, which only favoured those who enjoyed scholastic learning and those who could afford the high cost; creativity and vocational train-
ing were not embraced and social pedigree determined one’s fate. Even if a person came from a well-to-do family of high social status, this did not guarantee his entitlement to the rights of receiving good education: the gender of the person was also a key factor. Affluent girls were usually homeschooled by private tutors. Victorian novelists have always presented the problem of inequality towards women with the use of education. Emma was intelligent but she could only be tutored by Mrs. Weston and make good use of her capacity in matchmaking; Jane Eyre, an orphan of great sensitivity, was shaped only to be a family tutor instead of a scholar notwithstanding her brilliancy. The first half of The Mill on the Floss mainly deals with the education of Tom Tulliver and, to a less extent, that of Maggie. As implied in the book titles, the first and the second book of the novel are about the intimate relationship between Maggie and Tom and also their education. Being a perforating issue throughout the first part of the book, Eliot explicitly illustrated various aspects of education at the time being, such as the dif-
ferent perspectives of characters in the story towards education, the problems in the education system and the relationship between education and class. The Mill on the Floss opens in clarity with Mr. Tulliver’s anticipation for Tom’s better pursuit in his studies. From Mr. Tulliver’s own view, good education provided Tom with edification so that he could break away from the hundred-year-long family fate of being a rural miller and ‘set up
an office in St. Ogg’s’ or even be the Lord Chancellor with his own effort. For Mr. Tulliver, education was not a matter of learning for fun or joy – at least to a less prominent priority – but for social status. Having perceived the rapid changes in rural social structures during the Industrial Revolution, Mr. Tulliver wanted his son to procure a better occupational opportunity for wealth.
What Mr. Tulliver lacked when deciding whom Tom was to be tutored was his knowledge on education. Mr. Riley, being unfamiliar with Mr. Stelling and the real circumstance of education after his graduation, gave an erroneous and misleading impression to Mr. Tulliver that churchmen from Oxford or Cambridge were the most appropriate educators owing to their high reputation and profound academic accomplishments in old-fashioned Latin education inherited from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Eliot interposed with her personal comments at the end of Chapter Three of Book One concerning the opinions of Mr. Riley. Apart from the faulty impression on education given by Mr. Riley, another critical reason for Mr. Tulliver’s incorrect choice of schooling for Tom was that Mr. Tulliver had to listen to Riley’s advice as a means of homage to his old friend at school or else he would be regarded as ‘a thoroughly pigheaded fellow’. Tom had a rather different attitude towards higher education. In Book Second, Tom was taught by Mr. Stelling and was in great anxiety for the new and unfamiliar environment. Throughout the chapters, Tom was depicted to be alienated by
Mr. Stelling for his slow progress in classical learning and Euclid geometry. He was not accustomed to social rituals and the style of language that Stelling used, which was quite different from the dialect in St. Ogg’s. Moreover, his father never questioned the education of Stelling and still held the illusion that classical education was the most beneficial, which could be epitomised in his intercourses with Stelling. However, after some time of ‘edification’, Tom eventually accepted the passive mode of education and learnt a lot of bookish knowledge. Nonetheless, Tom found that his Latin education could hardly gain him a living in the real world, which could be summarised by Mr. Deane, who said that the world was not made of pen, ink, and paper, and if Tom were to get on in the world, he must know what the world was made of. Book Second could in fact be considered a tragedy for Tom, for this period of school time had shaped Tom from a lively and inquisitive boy into an inflexible man. Practical knowledge, in Eliot’s philosophy, is more valuable and helpful than rigid syllabuses.
‘The world outside the books was not a happy one.’ This was a comment by Maggie which fully reflected her constraint in her studies. Maggie loved learning and was endowed with the intrinsic traits of innovations, diligence and wisdom.
In Chapter Four of Book Second, Eliot elucidated another loophole of Victorian traditional education other than the aforesaid problem, and that was the injustice in allocation of education as well as the non-embracing culture of the adult world towards different types of knowledge.
Yet, her genuine affection for books and her ideas were always considered awkward and unfit to the world. Tom blamed Maggie for showing off her intelligence, and Stelling described Maggie’s cleverness as superficial and of no use.
Can there be an afterlife? by 5F Matthew Kan In February, one of our readers posted a number of his thoughts about the afterlife on our Facebook page. We would like to take this opportunity to respond to this enthusiastic reader.
First of all, a recap of what our reader wrote. He was thinking about where we will go in the afterlife. He proposed that within the multiverse, there were a number of parallel universes which were linked together. When a person in one of these universes dies, he/she would move on to the next parallel universe and live his/her life exactly the same way again, until the heat death of the universe or the big crunch. Since our reader used the recent paper by Stephen Hawking on the nature of black holes to demonstrate that astrophysics is still primitive, I’ll use a bit of time to talk about them. Black holes are a very complicated subject. An object with such strong gravity that even light couldn’t escape was first proposed by John Mitchell in the 18th century. The next breakthrough had to wait till 1915,
when Albert Einstein published his paper on general relativity, which shows that gravity could affect light’s motion. However, there was a paradox on the nature of black holes: information could not leak from it. If even light cannot escape from a black hole, then the black hole theoretically would not emit any radiation, and have a temperature of absolute zero, which violated the 3rd law of thermodynamics. Hawking proposed that information could leak from the black hole through a phenomenon later known as Hawking radiation. His theory was that two mutually entangled particles would escape from the black hole as a quantum of Hawking radiation, while the other one is swallowed by the black hole. However, research by Leonard Susskind has suggested that particle leaving the black hole must be entangled with all pre-
viously emitted Hawking radiation. Since a particle cannot be entangled with two independent systems, this creates a paradox. One proposal is that the entanglement between the two particles is somehow broken when the out-going particle leaves. However, this would release a lot of energy, creating a ‘firewall’ that would destroy everything that it contacts. Hawking’s proposal of an apparent horizon attempts to solve this paradox by removing the need for a firewall, but his theory is not yet widely under-stood, much less black holes themselves. Personally, I do not believe we will ever find out their true nature because of their unobservable nature.
The many-worlds interpretation and the multiverse theory seem the same, but are actually different. The many-world interpretation is one interpretation of quantum mechanics which implies that every possible outcome that did not happen in the history of our universe has happened in some other universe. This changed the previous assumption that the reality only had one history, and changing it to a ‘branching’ history, where every outcome is realised. This is a related but different theory to the multiverse, which is some-times also referred to by parallel universe. The multiverse is the hypothetical set of infinite or finite universes that includes everything that exists or could exist. Scientists have come up with hypothetical parallel universes, such as universes with different physical constants (such as the gravitational constant), or complex structures of multi-verses. Both of these theories are quite interesting, but the problem with them is that they cannot be tested. The many-world theories claim that there are many or infinite universes, but none of them can communicate with each other. Thus, it would be impossible to test the validity of this claim. The same goes for the multiverse, since it would be impossible to transfer infor-
mation between different ‘layers’ of the multiverse. So what does this have to do with the afterlife? The afterlife is a very interesting topic for most people; after all, many view going to heaven as their motivation to do good and work in life. However, if the afterlife, where people in their spiritual forms go to after they do is to exist, then there must be something unphysical or undetectable in our dimension that exists inside every living being, namely the soul. People who believe in the after-life think that the soul will leave the body when it does, and the soul will travel to a better place. Since the nature of the multi-verse is still unknown, some people propose that the soul would go to another universe. However, there are a number of problems which arise from this proposal. First of all, how would a person have a soul that can be held on to for all their life? This would require constant information being transferred between the physical body and the soul, and any potential disruption could cause the person to lose his soul. Some might argue that it is trauma to the physical body that causes these disruptions, causing a person to die. Then, what would happen to a person whose soul is disrupted in an-
other dimension? That person drops dead immediately? I do not have an answer to these questions, since I am no expert in this dimension. Secondly, how would the soul have the memories of the person going to the afterlife? Memories are stored by neurons in the brain, as far as we know. Would it be possible for a soul to store all these memories in their whole, despite being in another dimension? Last but not the least, is the soul only limited to living objects, which limits the type of things allowed to go to the afterlife? Let’s assume that only living objects can have souls. Then, at what point in time, do objects obtain souls? It is widely accepted that the Earth did not have life at the beginning of its formation, which is to say there were not any souls in the beginning. Then, living beings must have originated from dead objects. It would be logical to make the conjecture that at some point in time, when a dead bunch of atoms form a living thing, it obtains a soul. However, it was bacteria that first emerged, which gradually evolved into the diversity of creatures today. Questions arise: Where did the soul come from? Do all bacterium have a soul? Or is it at some point during the evolutionary branch that a living being obtains a soul? No one
knows. There is an unlikely answer though: all particles have souls. If this is true, there would be no questions regarding how the soul is obtained since it would have originated from the big bang.
transfer of information between them. There are interpretations of the multi-verse theory that allows for parallel universes, so this theory cannot be dismissed. However, there is another problem, why would there be
of identical universes. That would, of course, make the multiverse very large, but as far as we know, it is still not out of the question.
How about the proposal that after death, a person would somehow go to another parallel universe and live their lives again? Again, there is the problem of the soul transferring information. Apart from this question, how would it be guaranteed that a person could live his/her life exactly the same way? According to the multiverse theory, parallel universes are independent of each other, so there cannot be any communication between them. If events that unfold in two parallel universes are exactly the same, then there must be a
another parallel universe that is the exact same as another one? Since the multi-verse theory does not exclude the possibility that infinite universes exist, then a pair of such universes should exist simply by probability. Following this logic, there would be an infinite number of sets of an infinite number
A final question: life or afterlife, is there a difference?
Submissions from Friends of The Scholars *
Have a Little Faith by 5C Aplus Ho "Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council."--Bible, John 3:1 *
7:30 a.m., Baker Street. Dressed in my black suit, with my leather suit case in one hand and a coffee cup in another, I walked towards my Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 with confident strides. Aged 24, I am a senior lawyer who had just started his own law firm, with countless cases and money flowing in. I had never lost any cases so far in my legal career. My record was unbeatable. A symbol of success, people said. He is the man who turns a blind eye towards justice. The super villain of the court. I was a rising star in the legal profession. I had saved countless gangstersâ€™ butts, and I didnâ€™t really care if they go out and kill loads and loads of people again, as long as they know who to find when they were ever accused again. Yet my suit was less tidy today, my leather suit case a little less shiny, my hands weak from fear, and my confident strides soon broke off into a stumble. I cursed as the coffee spilled on my suit. I kept walking.
7:00 a.m., Four Season Hotel, Baker Street ‘My god, Jeff is dead!’ Tom said on the phone. ‘I know. Can’t you say something I don’t know?’ I grunted, chewing through a piece of bacon. This breakfast was relatively cheap, a hundred pounds, but the bacons were a bit overcooked. I spat the bacon out in disgust and dapped my mouth with a napkin. ‘I am very sorry. Do you know that he wrote your name with his blood on the floor before he died?’ My jaw dropped. Jeff was a client of mine. He was a man who didn’t know the word “sober”. Last night, he killed a boy aged 16 at a nightclub. The boy was the son of a committee member of the city council in town. Pure bad luck he ran into someone as crazy as Jeff. Jeff then turned to me for help, for he knew that he would be sent to jail again for murder. At first, I didn’t want to help out—he didn’t have a single penny on him— but then I realised this would be a chance for me to impress the public yet again, and I agreed to do it for free. This morning Jeff was found dead in his house, a hole in his temple, with a bullet coming straight out from the other side of his head, soaked in blood. The police assumed Jeff died of suicide, that he feared he would be accused, but the pistol was never found. I didn’t believe all that crap from the cops. I bet Jeff was killed. Yet what Tom just said scared the heck out of me. My name? Tom continued, ‘A quote was written next to your name. "Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council." Weird huh?’ ‘What the heck is that supposed to mean?’ I yelled. The guests on the tables around me turned to look at me. I didn’t care. ‘I have no idea, boss. It’s a quote from the Bible, by the way. If I were you, I would just let go. Who knows, that guy might have tried repenting for his deed before he died, right?’ ‘Talk to you later. I am coming back.’ I didn’t wait for his answer, and I ordered a takeaway coffee and went to my car. *
9:30 a.m., Aplus’ law firm I passed the guard post in front of my office. You got to get a guard post for your office nowadays, just to ensure no crying women or madmen would come here looking for me, a pistol in their hands, looking to avenge their sons or daughters or fathers or mothers or their friends killed by my clients. The guard opened the door for me. I waved him off. These guards were always lazy when no one’s looking, but they got away with it all the time. The guard was slightly bald, and his name tag hanging loosely on his white shirt. He looked drunk. I hurried past him.
11:30 a.m., Aplus’ office I couldn’t concentrate. All the words and numbers floated meaninglessly in front of my eyes. My mind kept going back to the quote. A member of the Jewish ruling council? Could it mean that the father of the dead kid hired some professional serial killer to hunt for Jeff? And me? Fear crept up my spine, and the room was suddenly cooler, much cooler. Suddenly, I could hear approaching footsteps. I opened my drawer, where a Colt .45 laid motionlessly in the space. Can’t trust anyone these days, gotta watch your own back. My father used to say. I held my breath. The door swung open. Tom came in, looking startled. ‘Boss? I thought we were meeting the Jerkins this afternoon? Are you ready to go?’ I let out a sigh of relief. I nodded weakly and waved Tom away. No point in worrying, I told myself. We went past the guard post again. The guard opened the door for us automatically. *
3:00 p.m. Aplus’ office I sat on my chair, staring blankly out of the window. A man named Nicodemus, who was a man of the ruling Jewish council… John 3:1… I looked up the quote on the Internet and found out that it was actually in John, Chapter 3 Verse 1. I am asking a man who died 2000 years ago to help me find out my killer. I laughed nervously. John Chapter 3 Verse 1…Does that mean that I am going to get killed at ten past three? I looked at my watch. It was two minutes past three. I have eight minutes to prepare. Maybe they hired Tom. Maybe they asked Tom to kill me. I thought frantically. I immediately called Tom into my room. ‘Tom, we are good pals right?’ I asked, my hand reaching into my drawer. ‘Okay… what do you want boss?’ Tom raised an eyebrow. ‘You won’t betray me for nothing, right?’ I asked. I could hear my voice, sharpened and high-pitched from nervousness. ‘Of course not! Boss, you okay?... Ah! You must be still thinking about the quote! I shouldn’t have told you about it. That lunatic must have killed himself.’ Tom chuckled. I didn’t laugh. He soon stopped laughing and stared at me with a look of concern. said.
‘You know what boss, you should just go back home and take some rest.’ Tom I sighed. ‘You know what, you may be right.’ I am just being hysterical. I told
myself. Calm down and look around you. You know all the people in the office; you got a guard post right in front of your office. That jerk Jeff might just have killed himself. I relaxed a little. ‘I’ll give you a drive.’ Tom said. I tensed. That was weird; Tom never gave me a drive in my life. I nodded glumly. As he left the room first, I quietly pulled the pistol out of my drawer and strapped it to my belt, hidden under my suit. I followed him and we left the office together. When we reached the aisle before the guard post, Tom suddenly stopped. He reached for his pocket and jerked around almost the same time, facing towards me. Fear glinted in his eyes as I pulled the pistol out and pointed towards him. ‘Put down the gun Tom!’ I bellowed. ‘What the heck boss? What on earth are you doing! Listen to me, I know what is happening! Jeff ain’t no madman! He was killed!’ Tom spluttered. ‘I know, Tom. I know it’s you. Pull out the gun kick it towards me, now!’ ‘No! You don’t understand! I am not the killer!’ Tom said, as he pulled out a black, shiny object from his pocket. I knew he was trying to distract me. I had watched my share of gangster movies to know what he was trying to pull off. I didn’t give him the chance and put two bullets right in the front of his chest. Tom gurgled and fell. ‘Guard! Come over here! This man was trying to kill me! Call the police!’ I yelled towards the guard post. The bald guy hurried over and stared at me with wide eyes. ‘What are you staring at? Call the police!’ I said, exhausted. I crouched down to retrieve Tom’s weapon. He was not dead yet, and his eyes darted from me towards the guard, and from the guard to me again. These guards are so dumb that they don’t even understand orders. They even let an employee carry a firearm into my office! I gotta fire them all. A cold object poked my temple. ‘Jesus Christ man, you have got to be the only person I kill without guilt.’ The guard said, his finger behind the trigger. I stared up with disbelief. ‘I guess that your friend here, who’s about to die because of you, was trying to call the police.’ The guard said, as he pulled the black shiny object from Tom’s pocket. It was a phone. ‘Smart guy, must have figured out I am the gunner.’ The guard smiled sadly. ‘Pity, ruined by your smart ass boss.’ He turned towards me again. ‘How…why…’ I was speechless. Then I spotted the name tag pinned neatly on his shirt. My look of surprise, realization and horror stared back at me from the shiny surface of the gold, metallic name tag. “John”, it said. *
The Fate of Humanity and the Universe by 1C Anson Tam Charles Darwin, ‘Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress.’ Long, long ago, our ancestors have been very curious about the Earth and the heavens. They are always thinking about questions of nature and the physical phenomena they could see and observe around them. Why is there the sun? Why is there a moon? Why do we have lightning? Where do people go when they pass away? They also believe that there should be a much more mighty power over them. Therefore, they developed religions. The Greeks made Zeus as the god of the sky, Poseidon as the god of the sea, Hades as the god of hell, Apollo as god of the sun, etc. Yet, from the start of the Father of Modern Science, Galileo Galilei, people begin to question their beliefs if god indeed controls his power over everything. At that very moment, another god, called Science, rose to power. The most notable scientists, physicists and thinkers include Greek mathematician, astronomer and geographer Eratosthenes, Greek astronomer and mathematician Claudius Ptolemy, Persian astronomer Abd al-
Rahman al-Sufi, astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Dutch scientist Christian Huygens, English astronomer Sir Isaac Newton, German physicist Albert Einstein, Ame-rican astronomer Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking. These giants of science have set mile-stones for humanity’s further exploration and observation to find out more about the cosmos, giving chances to the next generation of young scientists to discover. After the Industrial Revolution approximately from year 1760 to 1820, technology became more advanced. Needless to say, scientists discovered more and more natural phenomenon and set up numerous equations, making a huge contribution to the scientific discoveries we see today. In the next centuries, physicists invented more advanced telescopic equipment, huge atom smashers and other apparatus that we could use to observe the heavens. Mankind became more and more knowledgeable on the universe, and
came to a point that they could predict the birth and death of the universe. It is according to everybody’s knowledge, the universe was born from a huge supernovae called the big bang. Yet, at the start of predicting the birth of the universe, everybody had his or her own theory. Finally, there were two parties, each supporting a different theory: one supported the steady-state theory (brief meaning: new matter is continuously created as the universe expands, under the perfect cosmological principle- the universe looks the same everywhere (on the large scale), the same as it always has and always will) while the other supported the big bang theory. It was evident which party had won or lost. The reasons for abandoning the steady-state theory are the microwave back-ground radiation and the failure of explaining abundance of helium that exists in the universe in Fred Hoyle’s steady-state theory. In fact, the big bang theory can now be proved using the WMAP satellite, which was sent to space in
year 2001, that showed the microwave radiation emitted by the big bang. The universe today is also expanding. Recalling from previous knowledge, people could remember clearly that it was Edwin Hubble who created the Hubble Space telescope at that time when the theory of inflation of the universe was announced. It was also at that time when Albert Einstein announced his ‘life’s greatest blunder’ that he had first thought the universe was not expanding at all and created a ‘cosmological constant’. In the universe we are now in today, it is actually accelerating and expanding at a very fast rate. This accelerating phase is called the de Sitter expansion, which is driven by a mysterious anti-gravity force. This mysterious force is still not yet understood nowadays. Yet, if there is a birth of a universe, there must be an end of the universe. Whenever there is a beginning, there is an end. Whenever there is an end, there is a new beginning. Many religions around the world have developed theories of how the world will end like. The most common ones is that the good will fight the evil and will defeat them during Judgment day. In Christianity, the final battle between the forces of God and Satan will happen on earth during Judgment day. Jesus will rescue
the believers of God, while the people who have no faith or belief in God will not be saved, and will suffer enormous pain. Yet, in ‘the book of destiny’ of science, the dooms-day of the world will not include any god, devil, evil spirits or forces. Instead, it is a death that all organisms, planets, satellites and stars will experience from. The death is called the ‘Big Freeze’. There are also many other sayings, such as the ‘Big Crunch’ or the ‘heat death’.
crease. If this second law is applied to the universe, it means that everything in the universe will run down. There will be countless numbers of dead dwarf stars, black holes etc. Everything that emits heat will become worthless. During the nineteenth century, scientists have proposed a theory that the heat will spread out into the universe, making the temperatures in the universe rise without a stop. This is the ultimate ‘heat death’.
What is the so-called ‘heat death’ then? Actually, according to the second law of thermodynamics, the amount of entropy in the universe always increases. What is entropy? Entropy is the amount of disorder/chaos. The most common example is everybody. As we grow old, our bodies age. This gives a rise to entropy. Another simple example is tearing off/ burning up a piece of paper. As you see, entropy in the world always increases. The amount of increase is larger than that would de-
The other saying of the death of the universe, called the Big Crunch, may not be well accepted. The theory states that the universe will stop expanding and begins to contract. Galaxies will collide with one another and merge together. The other stars gain energy. The temperature of the background micro-wave radiation will eventually rise in a runaway mode as the universe becomes hotter and hotter. The impact of these effects will make temperatures that are higher than the surface temperature of the stars. The stars will then disintegrate and form into super-hot gas clouds. This is more like the ‘heat death’. In the finale, the universe collapses into a single point. This is the ‘Big Crunch’. In a Newtonian world, the universe may not collapse at a single point. Some stars, planets etc. will fall out of the collapsing point and create another cycle of the universe. However,
it is largely agreed by astrophysicists around the world, that the universe obeys Einstein’s equations more than Newton’s, in which that the universe will collapse into a single point during the Big Crunch. What is the ‘Big Freeze’ then? For billions and billions of years, the mysterious antigravity force will push the universe into a more larger and larger volume, until it reaches a non-stop mode. At that time, the universe grows very quickly. The galaxies we will see on earth will become less and less as the entire visible universe reaches the event horizon (brief meaning: the farthest point that light can possibly travel). The space between the galaxies will expand faster than the speed of light. As the remaining energy in space becomes thinner, temperatures will drop to nearly absolute zero. This is called the ‘Big Freeze’.
sult in their ultimate death. As for humanity, there are many possible means of death for our kind. It is a very unfortunate piece of news that our nearby sun would explode in a matter of five billion years. It will then become a red giant and the corona (brief meaning: a type of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other celestial bodies) will reach the earth, evidently causing our ultimate destruction. The galaxy that is currently nearest and is considered as a threat to us, is called Andromeda. This galaxy is only 2.5 light years away from the Milky Way Galaxy and is speeding towards us at a speed of 250,000 miles/h.
To conclude the deaths of intelligent species on the planet after trillions of years, either they will either freeze or fry to death. However, before this momentous moment of the death of all intelligent species, there may be other ‘happy cosmic accidents/a series of unfortunate events’ that the intelligent species cannot miss. They may be totally destroyed before the disastrous occasion of the Big Freeze/Heat Death/Big Crunch. There may be the collision of galaxies, the explosion of a neighboring star, the threats of the black hole, the wars, con-flicts and pollutions done by the species that will re-
The two galaxies will eventually collide together after an approximate estimation of four billion years. There is a black hole in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy. Yet, there is even a bigger one in the Andromeda Galaxy. The aftermath of the collisions of the galaxies will result in the merging of the two black holes and the destruction of the Milky Way Galaxy, in which the planets and stars of our galaxy will lie in the hu-
mongous stomach of the black hole of the Andromeda galaxy. When you look at the moon, you always see the same side of the moon. It hasn’t changed shape or the distance between itself earth during your lifetime, this result will be announced by a Homo-erectus several thousands of years ago, with his naked eyes and no telescopic equipment. The moon hasn’t changed shape. Yet, after every year, the distance between the moon and the earth increases by four centimeters. When the moon reaches a certain distance, it will not follow the earth’s orbit anymore. All mass exerts a gravitational force. In our present day situation, the tidal bulges on the earth exert a gravitational pull on the moon. The moon also pulls back on the tidal bulge of the earth. After two billion years, the distance between the moon and the earth will be so far that the spinning of the earth will not be stabilized. The earth will tumble on its axis, making disastrous changes in the weather, making all life on Earth as we know it impossible. According to your previous knowledge, Jupiter is actually a gigantic planet. Therefore, it has an immense gravity. This force helps to make asteroids fly into outer space. Yet, the size of the earth is much smaller. Therefore, the gravitational force it exerts is weaker. Asteroids and comets impose a great threat to earth and all intelligent species under its atmosphere. Although the atmosphere acts as a protection shield for us, it is said that
NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) recently found a new asteroid named, 2013 YP139. It is currently 27 million miles away from Earth. The asteroid is 0.4 miles wide and threatens to have worldwide consequences if it crashes on earth. Considering the fact that the impact of the Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Russia last year, it is terrifying to think of an asteroid which is larger in size than it to hit earth.
the greenhouse effect and also the decrease of natural resources, there is not much response from the world-wide public. At the same time, conflicts between countries arose. Some authors proposed an idea that in the next few decades, there will be the so- called ‘Oil wars’. This name seems hilarious. Yet, this imposes a great threat to humanity. There is also the mass production of nuclear weapons. These nuclear weapons impose a great danger to humanity. Will humanity become extinct from conflicts and the lack of resources? Every problem always has a particular solution. Yet, is a solution possible in the worstcase scenarios of our kind?
Although the asteroid 2013 YP139 does not impose an immediate threat, it will pass by earth at a distance of three- hundred thousand miles, which is approximately the distance of the earth to the moon. It is also measured that there will be a very large possibility that an asteroid or comet will hit the earth in the next decades, producing great damage. Will we, humanity, end up like the dinosaurs? There are much serious pollutions in Earth nowadays. Natural resources on Earth are running low. Although environmental organizations have informed citizens of the impact of
Scientists, physicists and civilians from the general public have thought and announced great solutions of the above problems to the world. Yet, can they be properly carried out? People proposed an idea of building space colonies on Mars and other inhabitable planets. They can create a artificiallycreated atmosphere and allow people on earth to live in. Then, they could grow trees, develop countries and economy of nations. Yet, could these fabulous ideas be carried out? Maybe in the next few hundreds and thousands of years, mankind could possibly space- travel, roadtravel, air-travel, sea-travel etc. at a very cheap price. However, in our present day situation, building a normal space travelling machine costs billions of
dollars and is a huge financial burden for many countries nowadays. In science- fiction movies and novels, everything seems possible. However, how much would a spaceship in Star Trek cost in reality? How much would space colonies affect the economy of greats nations? Will it be an imaginary situation like in the current movie Elysium, in which there is a huge type of machine that can make an inhabitable place for humans? This kind of machine causes billions of pounds. All of the above solutions will bankrupt most nations, creating a worldwide economic crisis and downfall. Then, are there other solutions? Physicists have proposed an idea of escaping into parallel universes. It may be possible or impossible. Yet, physicists would need to confront their most important barriers- the black hole and a theory of everything. Everybody has a very brief knowledge of a black hole. Many physicists have thought that black holes are actually ideal for space and time travel. Astrophysics is still in its infancy. With Einstein’s equations or Hawking’s findings, we know that time travelling back to a previous time through wormholes may be possible. Yet, you first need to find a Kerr black hole (brief meaning: rotating black hole), travel through the Einstein-Rosen Bridge (brief meaning: wormhole/short-cut through space time) and exit through a white hole (brief meaning: hypothetical region of
space time which cannot be entered from the outside; but matter and light can escape from it). It will be a one-way trip, with no going back. Yet, this act is risky and accurate calculations must be done to ensure the safety of the trip. Yet, nobody had tried to step into a black hole before. Moreover, it is difficult to ensure if a wormhole is stable or not. Therefore, before going on this trip, experiments must be carried out. However, this is only for time travel and may only benefit humanity for a short period of time, as there must be an end for the universe. Moreover, if the idea is travelling to parallel quantum universes, the manyworlds theory must be correct. According to the theory, the universe splits every time radiation passes through a wormhole. Yet then, the radiation buildup of the black hole will not become infinite, which is the main problem. To conclude, if the only ‘light’ for civilization is travelling through time or getting into parallel worlds/ universes, a theory of everything must exist, so that all calculations will be done accurately and there will not be any ‘holes’ in the theory. At present, the only candidate for the theory of everything is the m- theory, a theory that expresses an idea about the basic substance of the universe. Yet, of course, the act of travelling will bankrupt many nations. It will also take a long period of
time for physicists to figure out a ‘theory of everything’. There is a third solution. This solution maybe is the most ‘creative’ and scientific solution above all: creating a baby universe. There are many ways of creating a baby universe by an advanced civilization. Let’s assume that travelling through a black hole is possible. Will the laws of physics enable humanity to create a new universe?
Answer: Maybe, or maybe not. The most reasonable answer is heat up a tiny region of space to 1029 degrees K. Then, this small patch of space must be cooled down rapidly. At a certain temperature, it is estimated that space-time will become unstable. Very small Bubble-shaped universes will begin to form. (Bear in mind that our universe is actually flat.) These universes, which are forming all the time, may only live for a short period of time. Yet, at a certain temperature, they may become real universes. If we apply enough energy at a single, particular point, theory points out that virtual baby universes may
appear out from nowhere. This universe will inflate in hyperspace (brief meaning: higher dimensions) and bud off our universe. A wormhole will then connect us to that particular universe. There are of course many other solutions. Yet, will the ‘laws of nature’ forbid us from completing the above solutions? Is there really a theory of everything? Are all those equations and formulas of Einstein correct? Is it written in the ‘Book of Destiny’ that all intelligent species must die out? However, we are still only in the Stelliferous Era of the universe, which is from 106 (1 million) years to 1014 (100 trillion) years after the Big Bang. There is still much time for humanity to find out more about the universe. As generations and generations of scientists, physicists and best thinkers all around the world unite together to solve the matter, maybe in the next few trillions of years, humanity will eventually become a more advanced civilization and understanding the deepest roots of cosmology.
Published on Mar 17, 2014
We are most delighted to present to you Volume II of The Scholars Journal. This 44-page magazine features articles ranging from political co...