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PERKS OF BEING AN ASTROPHILE

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“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may have seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”
– Stephen Hawking

Why astronomy matters in our life. Many of us thinks that it’s just branch of science which deals with study of stars, space, universe etc. Even Wikipedia has the same definition. And it’s not wrong at all neither it will. Before understanding the importance of astronomy in our life, first we need to be aware about ourselves. Yes, often we have such question, where do we come from? The stuffs that resides in our(so called) body, where did we get it from?

You might not know about it but we all are made up of Stardust. Astronomy tells us the composition of matters which occurs in different celestial bodies, actually resides in body too! The matter that we all made up of is nothing different than the those which found on planets and stars. So, Astronomy is a key to understanding who we are and how we stack up.

If not stars, there would be no glass and steel, no internet and no iron-enriched vitamins to helps us make it through the day. Thus, learning a bit astronomy/physics could go a long way in understanding just how we got that. And it should be our genuine curiosity to know about such things.

Recently, we had a stunning interstellar visitor, comet NEOWISE. How fascinating that was to get to know about that comet. Just think, it was visible that time and won’t be back again for almost 6800 years. Its wondering, what that traveller will see on the Earth when it will pass again! That’s fascination we get from astronomy. It gives us an importance of our existence in this vastness field called Universe.

Thousands of years ago, people thought that we are at the centre of universe and everything revolved around us. They were so much used to believe on the several blind Faith about universe. For thousands of years people were so much busy with their problem on the Earth. Then the legendary man, sir Galileo Galilei, pointed the telescope at the sky and everything has changed since then! Humans have come to understand how universe works and the science behind everything.

Astronomy is like everytime you learn something new by looking(studying)at same thing. The process of knowing the unknowns keeps on going. What we know is a drop, what we don’t is an ocean. That how big the universe is to get and astronomy is roadmap to dig out that mysterious, undiscovered stuffs and phenomenon.

The Butterfly Nebula

The big thing to know is that your place in the universe doesn’t end at the edge of the deep blue sky. The constellations fascinates us, in part because they are linked to the concept of of time and distance that are beyond our earthly imaginings. But instinctively, this tiny flickering points of lights are portals through which we might find answers to some of life’s toughest questions. Astronomy unravels the biggest question such as where did we came from and where we are going. Almost everyone is intrested in astronomy at their respective extent. But unfortunately, there are numerous people who don’t even understand the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun. Also, many people have no idea how eclipse happens, why planets shine like stars, even unaware of the difference between planets and stars. This is really disappointing to know how much awareness left to be spread.

Astronomy is the ultimate means of communicating with Nature. Anyone who’s looked up at dark night non polluted sky can easily appreciate the sheer rush from seeing all those points of light. Such jaunts is so deeply humbling.

I personally think astronomy as character building field. It helps to understand this vastness along with the fact that how small we are in this vast and eternal universe. Ego, status, prestige, money, fame, caste, creed all this fleeting things doesn’t matter when you’re looking towards the Milky way, Sagittarius, Vega, Sirius, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars!!!

There are so many obstacles that are disconnecting people from sky. From light pollution to many indoor distraction like hundreds of TV channels to videos games, Facebook, Instagram. There’s is saying written on book by Marcus Aurelius, the Meditations:

“Dwell on the beuty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them”.
It expresses gratitude, generosity and humbleness.

Finally, Astronomy is logical outgrowth of Sapien’s inherent curiosity and cussed need to know why….
“Why” is more important for everything. It’s our curiosity which makes us driven throughout our life. As Aristotle once noted, “All humans by nature have desire to know.”
The more curious you are, the lesser your worries become and even more questions will arise with abundant amount of answers you will have, that’s what curiosity is all about and Astronomy is driven by curiosity!!!

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Our Social Dilemma

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When I ask a question to people about why they use social media? The common answer people give is that they have access to interact with their friends and other people. Technology bought remarkable changes in human life, they increased communication between people, they found organ donors, and they spread news faster and many more. This technology bought meaningful and positive changes to human life. Nevertheless, we are unaware of the flip side of the coin.

Many people think that Facebook is just a place to see their friend or YouTube is just a source to see videos around the world. What we don’t realise is they are competing for our attention. How it is possible? Let us dig down deeper into it.

Large tech companies like Facebook, Google, Tiktok, Instagram, Pinterest have a business model to engage people onto their screens, to get people’s attention as much as possible and making money simultaneously within that span of time. All that we think is free on the internet is not in reality, they are paid by advertisers. The advertisers pay these companies in exchange to show their advertisement. 

If internet wasn’t a free source, the engagement rate towards it would drop down drastically. As we, don’t pay for the product we have become the product. Where the tech companies are the sellers, advertisers are the customers and the product being sold is our attention.

Every business thinks that if they place an advertisement they will reach their goal of success early. In order to reach the success in that particular business they need to have great prediction and lot of data.

The tech companies whose business model is to make sure the advertisers are successful in that business track your data, all the clicks you have made, all the likes, screen time, almost everything is tracked and monitored. They know everything thing about us whether we are lonely or happy. They even know our personality type.

There are lot of techies in Silicon Valley learnt to use all the knowledge about human psychology that persuades people and build that into technology. This is persuasive technology, A design technique that can modify someone’s behaviour. Instagram has infinite scrolling feature that persuades people to keep on scrolling until they find something interesting.

Another feature very commonly used is refreshing. You pull your screen down and there will new feed on the top. So the infinite scrolling and refresh feature gives you a reward at a regular basis, when you scroll down there is something new on the screen that looks interesting for you which release dopamine into your body, to get back the dopamine hit you have to keep on scrolling. Now this action of pulling down the screen and scrolling becomes an unconscious habit. This in psychology is positive intermittent reinforcement.

We have surrounded our lives with perceived sense of perfection, we get short-term rewards of dopamine hit through likes, thumbs up, comment etc,. We get a fake popularity that we consider as real. These short-term rewards force us to fall into the loop to do something new to get that reward again. Technology is not only controlling our attention but technologies like social media have changed psychology of kid’s as well as teenagers; they have lost their self-worth through this fake reality. Today’s young generation is more anxious and more depressed.

Processing power has advanced quadrillion times since 1960s but our human brain has not evolved and fundamentally, it would never change. We all think the same that Artificial intelligence will be the destructor of humans in far future, what we need to understand is Artificial intelligence is running our world right now.

The big tech companies have tons and tons of computers stored in a massive room that runs all algorithms from simple task to complex task. However, Artificial intelligence isn’t the problem, it is just like a machine with a define task to do and it learns by performing different experiments to reach the task and gets slightly better every single day.

Famous basketball player Kyrie Irving believed that earth is flat, later when he apologized he blamed to YouTube’s rabbit hole. Basically Kyrie Irving fell into the trap of YouTube recommendation, YouTube’s A.I used recommendation feature to engage Kyrie onto his screen by displaying all the videos that were promoting the flat-earth conspiracy theory, its like the YouTube finds the nearest rabbit hole to dig down deeper and deeper.

Finally, Kyrie was convinced that the earth is flat because all the videos he was watching sound true to him. When he apologized for believing that earth is flat, few student were interviewed saying “the round-earth people got Kyrie”. The algorithm is getting smarter exponentially today people are convinced by the flat earth theory tomorrow there would be new conspiracy theory that people will believe into.

There is lot of fake news spreading faster than real news; It has increased polarization among people, nations are dividing themselves. Internet has become as market place, a market place where human futures are being sold, a market place where you are just a zombie who look at the screen for a long time. This is undermining democracy, if this goes on for years we won’t survive.

People often say that technology has ruined the world but this isn’t true. It is simultaneous utopia and dystopia, you can call anyone from any corner of the world, and on the flipside, your calls could be tracked to use it against you.

Social media was built to spread love amongst people but the business model of different business and their financial incentives have ruin the fabric of healthy society, and there is no financial reason for the tech companies to change their services. There is no law on the tech companies to regulate data and to use is ethically

We need to admit these bad outcomes of technology are because of our work. We can demand the tech companies to built this humanely and not like an attention extraction source. The very fabric of healthy society depends on getting off the corrosive business model.

if we have built something we have a moral responsibility to change it and make it ethically possible.

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Humans and Climate Change: Our Energy Produce

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A general definition of energy is Capacity to do work. About 99% of human history , man used muscle energy either  humans or animals to do work. Using muscle energy wasn’t an efficient way for us to perform tasks as it consumed large energy. To match our needs and to increase efficiency we started making and developing tools. The first energy development happened when humans learnt to use the force of nature. Wind mills and water power increased the food production and irrigation in farms respectively. As technology advanced Coal became the dominant commodity to generate energy. In 1698, an English engineer named Thomas Savery invented steam engine. It was the first machine that provided significantly large amount of power not derived from muscle, water or wind. Coal powered industrialisation gave a boost to scale the production of goods. It was the industrial revolution where we discovered a clean and efficient form of energy called electricity. Electricity allowed people to work in dark and power heavy machinery. Coal that was used to generate energy was then used as a raw material to generate electricity. Soon after we discovered Oil and gas which were relatively efficient and clean source of energy than Coal. Oil was revolutionary because it could power not only ships, electricity and trains but also internal combustion engines which made cars and aeroplanes possible. 

From an energy use perspective the world since 1900 is a new era in human history, electricity and oil has become the core of our energy use. We use electricity for everything from lighting bulbs to powering our gadgets and oil for transportation. Scientists estimate that if we continue our current energy usage, we will run out of oil and gas  in next 50 years and Coal in next 100 years. Since 1900 our energy demands have increased exponentially and the usage is abrupt. Energy is cheap yet its most important factor that needs attention. We are not really concerned about our energy usage. So will renewable energy be our way to go ? Before answering this question let us know all about renewable energy.

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources like sun, wind and various others. It is the cleanest energy and doesn’t emit carbon dioxide in the air. Solar panels and wind turbines are the best example of technology to harness renewable energy. Renewable energy is the only category of energy that grew globally at double digits over the past decade. For perspective, in 2009 the world consumed 8.2 exajoules of renewable energy. In 2019, that had nearly quadrupled to 29.0 exajoules. At some point renewable seems a fascinating alternative that could also create new jobs. But the truth is it is not our way to go and why ? let us understand.

The electricity from solar rooftops end up costing twice as electricity from solar farms. Both solar and wind farms acquire significant areas of land with solar panels and wind turbines and it requires large transmission lines to bring the electricity from the country’s side into the city in which about 7-8 % of electricity is drained. Many big bird species that are endangered like kites, eagles and condors die due to wind turbines, in fact the most significant threat to these birds are wind turbines. In terms of solar farms, we need to clear the land and the wildlife to install the solar panels that threaten the species living there. To give an example, to build Ivanpah solar farm in California people clear all the desert tortoise, literally pulling and filling into the truck to shift them to other places. Many of these tortoises died while loading in trucks. At current estimates over 6000 birds die every year by catching on fire above the solar farm. Now using the cleaner energy and dealing with the environmental impact comes at a high cost. The electricity from the solar and wind farm can cost significantly high. We might think that it’s ok to pay high to receive clean energy.

Germany, the leader of solar, wind and renewable energy generates 48% of its electricity from clean sources. But at the same time the cost of electricity increased by 50% since the revolution. On the other hand, France produces about 75% of its electricity from clean zero-emission sources and pays almost half as much as Germany pays for their electricity. France produces its electricity from nuclear energy, about 75% of France is powered by nuclear energy. 

Nuclear energy turns out to be more reliable, It can generate electricity for 90% of the year. A 40 year study by the Environmental Progress shows that it costs less to produce electricity from nuclear power plants than solar, wind and other renewable sources. After understanding all these positives about nuclear power, a general question arises in each mind, is nuclear power safe ? Another 40 year study by British medical journal lancet finds nuclear power to be the safest. A climate scientist named James Hansen found out that nuclear power saved 2 million lives up to date. It turns out wind energy is far more dangerous than nuclear, two maintenance people died on a wind turbine while working on it in Netherland. Talking about environmental hazards by nuclear power is less due to less produce of nuclear waste that can be stored and managed in containment rooms. We need to change our views on Nuclear Power, this may help us a lot to fight against climate change for real.To all the readers, I ask a question. We know that Renewable Energy cannot save the planet, so could we allow them to destroy our planet? And would you support Nuclear energy in future to generate electricity? Think over it because our Future is in our hands.

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PUBG Mobile India Re-entry

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South Korean game developer PUBG Corporation and publisher KRAFTON announced that they have fully merged into a single entity. The company will be renamed to PUBG Studio and solely focus on development as PUBG Corp’s publishing and support teams have previously been integrated into KRAFTON.

KRAFTON’s independent studio portfolio currently consists of four studios including PUBG Studio, Striking Distance Studios, Bluehole Studio, and RisingWings. The AAA development studio Striking Distance Studios is currently developing an original narrative experience in the gaming Universe, while the Studio “will continue to seek ways to develop and expand the IP in various fields, including its esports and entertainment business.”

For fans, the move should be a good thing. The Corporation becoming PUBG Studio under Krafton means that the team can work autonomously to create its own unique vision on games. The battle royale has been going strong, and continues to be a mainstay in the genre since it released in 2017. According to the press release, The Studio will continue to develop and support Mobile version moving forward. The team has constantly added new content to its games and now we can some new innovations around the games.

Though PUBG has yet not clarified any official launch date, several media reports have come up with various dates on the launch. The latest date was said to be somewhere in the last week of December.

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