Emergence

I recently heard a talk by an eminent physicist on the concept of emergence. The idea is about organization on large-scale, when the actual dynamics of a system is occurring at the small scale. The most common example is the murmuration of birds, as shown in the photo below. How do tens or hundreds of birds fly individually yet form a large-scale organized pattern, at least one that the human mind can detect.

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The speaker went on to show beautiful animations of the game of life, with dozens and dozens of patterns that emerge spontaneously from simple rules that govern the individual pixels. His theory or hypothesis was that structure can exist at the higher level and the lower level independently. That got me thinking, how much of our very own thought is a result of emergence in a system that has the fundamental building blocks of matter arranged in a certain pattern. The very thought that came up with the concept of emergence is an emergent phenomena, as those quarks, atoms, molecules, neuron cells dance in unison to create it!

A run in the park

While running along a picturesque path in the park, I suddenly decided to stop and capture the moment. The evening light streamed through the green leaves shading everything around in a pleasant texture. I decided its got to be a panorama to capture the leaves, the path and the stream. Just as I panned the camera through, so the earth spun around its axis, bringing clouds to shade the sunlight streaming into my view. Hence, the shades of white seen in this picture !

Many a thought this change in shade brought to my mind. How fleeting a moment we live in, regarding it as our present, with our decisions to act on something, to define the next moment. Then there are external characteristics such as the earth spinning around the sun, the clouds spotting the skies as if it has a will of its own and the alignment of many such disparate yet connected events defining what the next present moment is going to be !

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Well, I shrugged and got back to my moment of capturing my present, which is now the past as I reminisce about it. Took this non-panoramic view of the path along the stream. The university parks is a quite and beautiful place to run along on a warm sunny summer evening. image

The ducks floating along the stream, the branches swaying along in the wind, their reflections tranquil in the stream and the voice of Clive Merrison playing Sherlock Holmes in my ears brought a unique serenity to the run.

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Thanks to Google Auto-Awesome for auto-awesomizing this for me !

Sunset over the meadow

A picture of the sunset behind the Port Meadows in Oxford, UK. Some of us from the department went out for a picnic on Friday evening in the meadow, with food, drinks and a frisbee to throw around. It was a beautiful summer evening with the sky partially clear and the weather warming everyone. The meadows is a flat land with odd patches of flora interspersed with droppings from cattle and other animals that pass by. The serenity of the River Thames flowing through and the boats parked along the banks of the river adds more to the calm of the ambience.image

Sand, rock and waves

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While the waves break gently on the shore,  the rocks weather the timeless onslaught.  The onslaught that withers their existence slowly into sand. Just as waves of humanity beats down upon cultural rocks to blend us all into the sand that covers the beach of time.

Swans by the swan theatre

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This is a view beside the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, a Victorian-era theatre dedicated to staging plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The swans glide merrily between the river banks. Every once in a while,  they would plunge beneath the surface with their posterior sticking out  and their head and long neck stuck in the river bed,  digging for food.

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Quite a strange way to eat !

Snow and Tipping points

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Snow kindles a warm feeling in my heart ever since I first saw it a few years back. The white altar cloth draped over lonely buildings, deserted streets and singular lampposts reminds me of entering an abandoned house with covered furnishings. Last week, the first snow of the season drenched my eyes in blankness as I peered outside my hotel room window in Colorado. From a weekend of bright sunny days and fall colors splurging the city canvas with more colors than usual like a Fauvist painting, the cityscape shifted to a snow draped monochrome painting. Yet, what added color to this scene was the mood of the people, the kids playing around and making snow men, the adolescents kicking around in the snow, shaking trees to wet their friends. Read more

Whales, Blue and Baleens

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Blue whales swimming in a red tide off the coast of California. Source: SIO,UCSD

Got an email the other day about the sighting of blue whales a mile off the coast of Del Mar, 10 miles from where I am. The email set rolling a chain of thoughts in my mind about whales and their magical world. Arguably the largest mammals to ever have roamed on earth,the blue whales, have their own idiosyncrasy which feature distinctly in many of man’s best adventure stories. Read more