Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

Recently, during a discussion on science several people who were not from the field of science objected to Stephen Hawking's observations on death, brain, after life and heaven.

They were referring to an interview in The Guardian Newspaper (1) where he said...

The belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a "fairy story" for people afraid of death.

In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain's most eminent scientist said there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark, he added.

In the interview, Hawking rejected the notion of life beyond death and emphasised the need to fulfil our potential on Earth by making good use of our lives. In answer to a question on how we should live, he said, simply: "We should seek the greatest value of our action."

In the talk, he argued that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged. "Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in, he said.

People who objected to Hawking's words said, "We are not great scientists. As ordinary people we live in eternal hope. When we lose our loved ones forever, we grieve and think they went to Heaven and God and are safe there. And we hope to meet them sometime again after we too die and reach Heaven. That comforts us. Now science and scientists are trying to remove that comfort zone and relief from pain. What do these scientists want? Send us into everlasting agony again?"

Well, I can understand their despair. I too faced the death of my beloved parents. I still long for their company. If one wish were granted to me I would be asking for a 'meeting with my parents'.

But as a person of science I know that would never happen. No wishes will be granted and my hopes will never be realized. 

Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man - Friedrich Nietzsche

This awakening into reality strengthens my mind permanently:

It is so beautiful to get this life of mine from them. To live with parents that loved me so much and gave their everything to fulfill my dreams. I celebrate this wonderful life my parents gave me! And the brief enlightened journey I had with them.

We all came from star dust and energy. And go to it again. In never ending cycles, each atom of our bodies goes to other forms, including the living ones both while we are still living and after our deaths. Atoms from other bodies come to us. There will be atoms that have been inside a living cell that started 3.5 billion years ago on our planet and are still in living cells today. Matter will be turned into energy and energy into mass. We belong to everything and everything belongs to us! A group of cells composed of atoms and energy in our brains makes us conscious with their work. It is the reason why we think, feel emotions including pain. But can't we channel that consciousness into realizing reality and face it with courage? We can, certainly!

We all belong to one universe. We were born here as a result of coming together of a few atoms and some energy and the resultant consciousness. In the end we will return to the place where we came from. The bits and energy our bodies are made of will be returned to the universe for the recycling process to continue. .

In the process we meet some forms like us who too came together with the help of atoms and energy and consciousness, who we call relatives and friends and inanimate things like our houses, cars, money etc. which we think are ours. They are ours only till we are here as conscious beings. Realize this. They are actually owned by the universe we came from, not us. And go back to it! That is the eternal truth!

Yes, our beloved ones who departed from us will still be there in the configuration of scattered particles and energy in this universe. But not in the conscious shapes we interacted with during their life times. We will never meet them again in those appearances we are familiar with once they die. We can only see them in our dreams as our brains try to comfort us by showing their pictures. That is all.

These atoms now in different configurations might not interact with us in the same way as they did earlier but they do it in a different way. In the  form of memories. The association we had with them when they were in a living form, the love,  affection and other emotions we experienced  because of them still interacts at the emotional level and brings us comfort and happiness.

After our deaths and destruction we too return back to the universe as individual atoms and energy, to the one body that recycles them and we all belong to whether we lived with our conscious bodies or existed as inanimate forms.

It is wonderful to think we all belong to one body, the universe, that processes and reprocesses atoms and energy into different configurations, bring them together in space and time, and then change the situations again to bring in new scenes of appearances. Nobody is going anywhere here and nothing is staying here forever in one form! So no one is departing from this universe, the atoms and energy we are made of are leaving only one form and from the site we are in but still be here in other arrangements and other spots in this one entity we call universe. That is what science tells us. Isn't it comforting too to think about the truth?

Picture Source: Google images

Some people try to create illusionary situations by telling false stories. No doubt, they give temporary solace to the people who want to get comforted during tragedies. But that is living in a fake world. That is not the truth and reality which can take you to peace and tranquility permanently.

Our parents and other relatives themselves train us and also get us trained with education since our births to face the world we live in with courage so that we can continue living  fruitfully even after their departures from our worlds.  Our friends support us so that we could travel in this world with some ease. The training and support we got during their times  with us make us overcome the lonely emotional situations and sustain us through our lives. But we should not expect those things to continue forever. After our  scenes with them are over, we should be able to go on and on on our own with the help of the training and wisdom we got from them and help others that need our support and help.

The rhythm of life and death (Directed by Science)

Man, made of atoms and energy
Borrowed from universe's depository
Which should be returned back to its treasury
Here you have only the rights of tenancy
So don't get into a false state of revery

Various explanations will be exhibited in the gallery
They are primitive mind's elegy 
To make you overcome grieving lethargy
Promises made of  trips heavenly
To meet again your departed loved ones certainly
Stories woven in tones of adulatory

In fact we all belong to one body
Accept this universe's unending reality
We must yield to its rules of confiscatory
Nobody is going away from these surroundings of neighbourly
After death, departure and their misery
We all still belong to this one entity

The atoms and energy of our bodies get into recirculatory
Modes of never ending repository
And the process and reprocesses trajectory 
Bringing them together and finally
The scene of  parting of way
Then change of situations gingerly
Where new scenes of appearances look awaitingly

All enacted in dramas rhythmically
Directed by science enchantingly
There is nothing taken away from you drastically
Just change of positionality
They are still there in another trajectory
So never ever worry
Simply rejoice this universe's synergy

My art work based on this theme: UNIVERSAL PHILOSOPHY

When I was reading Hindu religious books sometime back, I found a striking resemblance between description of God in those books & energy in Laws of  Conservation of Energy. In a world where there is clash between science & religion, I thought, there is one area that can bring harmony between the two. According to some religious books God is in the form of a very bright light-without a beginning or an end-filling the whole space in the universe. Goddess Adishakti (adi=beginning, shakti=energy) is one of the first formed Gods & Goddesses in this universe. It is said that Shakti is the power & energy with which the universe is created, preserved, destroyed & recreated by the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva. Science says there was only energy in the beginning.

Holy books say According to science
  1. God can neither be created nor destroyed
  2. God is present in each and every atom of this universe.
  3. God remains constant.
  4. God present in one form changes to another form but there is no destruction to Him.
  1. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
  2. All forms of energy exhibit mass & all mass is a form of energy.
  3. Energy remains constant.
  4. Energy can be converted from one form
    to another i.e., if it disappears in one form
    it reappears in another form

 My painting starts with Adishakti- who was described as a female in the religious books. Then I  painted big bang- formation of the universe- transformation of energy into mass- birth of galaxies &  stars- transformation of mass & energy from one form (body) to another- Sun, one of the stars, and  the earth-& things that happen on earth-some of the energy and atomic cycles. 

 An atom (red dot in the painting) that is a part of you now can become a part of a plant or a tree in  your garden or your pet dog or a hill- while you are living or after your death. If it disappears from  here, it reappears somewhere else. Everything came from cosmic energy & mass & return to it in  the end. This universe runs on mass & energy cycles- where life &death are relative terms & words  like I & mine become meaningless. Here nothing-not even your body- is yours!

 A person who understands this philosophy prays to God, “Lord, whoever or whatever I come  across, I treat him, her or it as you & worship. Whoever you come across, treat him or her as me  & shower your kindness!” Which means there is no difference between one & the other, anybody or  anything in this universe. We are all one and the same! This universal philosophy is the theme of  my painting.


In 1936, a young girl in New York named Phyllis sent Albert Einstein a letter asking him whether scientists prayed. In the letter, posted by Brain Pickings from a larger volume of Einstein's letters answering children's' questions, he replied that since scientists believe that everything in the world must fall under the laws of nature, they don't believe that a wish can be granted by a supernatural force.

Scientists think that every occurrence, including the affairs of human beings, is due to the laws of nature. Therefore a scientist cannot be inclined to believe that the course of events can be influenced by prayer, that is, by a supernaturally manifested wish.


So, realize this: No wishes unnatural will be granted because Natural Laws that govern this universe scientifically don't permit them! 



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A scientist said these interesting things recently...Every single celled bacterium or other organism is essentially 3.5 to 4.0 billion years old - is that immortal enough for you? In fact every single cell of my body is essentially 3.5 to 4.0 billion years old. Unfortunately almost all of those cells will die sometime in the next 40 years or so when I die. The only cell of my body that has any chance at immortality is the single sperm cell that resulted in my only known offspring - my 21 year old daughter.

The reason why these can all be considered to be 3.5 to 4.0 billion years old is because the first living cell on Earth started life about that many years ago - soon after the Earth and the solar system was formed 4.6 billion years ago. That first cell divided in half and therefore part of it's living material continued in it's progeny. At the time of that division, it's progeny together exactly equaled the parent cell. Those progeny then continued to grow and eventually divided themselves. That process has continued since then and will (probably) continue till the Sun goes nova about 5 billion years from now. Let's hope we make it out of the Solar System by then so that we can truly be immortal!

Because of this, there will be atoms that have been inside a living cell that started 3.5 billion years ago and are still in living cells today. Let's imagine that 3.5 billion years ago there was only 1 killogram of living matter on the Earth. On earth today there are about 500,000 million tonnes of (dry) living matter (see Biomass (ecology) ). Therefore we can calculate that in 1 kilogram of living matter today there are 100 billion atoms that were also in that 1 kilogram of atoms 3.5 billion years ago (see (1 kg / 500,000 million tonnes) * (number of atoms in 1kg carbon) ) Thus ever every picogram of living matter would be likely to have, on average, on atom from that original kilogram of living matter. The smallest prokaryotic cells on Earth today are about 1 micrometer in diameter. That means it is about 1 picogram in mass and therefore on average will have 1 atom of that original kilogram of living matter in it. The largest typical eukaryotic cell is about 100 micrometers in diameter and therefore will have a million atoms form that original kilogram of living matter!

Caveats: of course these calculations are over simplified - carbon atoms and other atoms pass in and out of living cells throughout their lifetime, but since most living matter eats other living matter or uses matter that has been excreted by other living matter, on average these calculations will be approximately correct. For example, plants take in carbon dioxide that animals excrete as waste. The one kind of matter that is always inside of living cells is the genetic information (DNA) - so if you instead consider the "original" 1 kilogram to be when there was 1 kilogram of DNA on Earth, then there will be a few to millions of base pairs of that original DNA in each living cell's DNA today!

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There is a common statistical example that holds that each breath you take contains at least one molecule from the dying breath of Julius Caesar. This is possible because molecules are so very, very, very small, that if a lungful of air is evenly distributed throughout the atmosphere, there should still be one of two molecules in every instance and that approximate volume of air. The logic works even better for atoms, which are smaller and more numerous still. As far as I know, this example was first used by physicist Enrico Fermi, but he's been dead long enough, it probably now holds equally well for his dying breath as for Caesar's.
Now, is it literally true? No way to know. Molecules don't always stay in circulation. They fly of into space. The get bound up in rocks. The become part of some mobster's cement overcoat and drop to the bottom of the sea. Scientists don't use carbon 14 dating for anything that feeds in the antarctic because carbon from the atmosphere is known to become trapped in deep antarctic currents for tens of thousands of years, during which time its C14 ratio continues to drop, so anything that feeds in the oceans there will appear to be much older than it really is if using in C14 dating.
But in principle, in general, the statement is correct. The vast majority of the atoms in the biosphere remain in endless circulation at least for millions of years.
--We are all just waves with atoms passing through. Consider all that oxygen and water every day. But nitrogen in protein and calcium in bones turns over, too. Just atoms in bits of DNA in neurons and maybe in some tooth enamel are with you all your (adult) life.
So you have some atoms in you that have been in everybody living and dead, with exception of embryos on the other side of the planet so young that atmospheric convection mixing time has protected you from a new wave of atoms coming from them. Weeks to a few months at most. And they of course immediately imbibed your atoms through the placenta. You get theirs through mother's exhalations, but it's asymmetric. Embryos are contaminated immediately, since you're long contaminated the globe.
To have two people isolated from each other at the same time, it's hard. You need PAIRS of conceptuses (concepti?) far apart in space, to have BOTH not share an atom. For a few weeks after simultaneous fertilization both embryos might be pristine. But each will have an atom that has been in the other, long before birth.
--Since you mentioned atoms, quantum mechanics play a dominant role, according to which all sub-atomic particle are indistinguishable. Ok, may be only fermions, but still every sub-atomic particle that makes up an atom is a fermion. In loose words, what this means is that concept of tracking an elementary particle is a moot point.
Since a dead person decays, which in chemical terms, react, all atoms undergo a reaction exchanging electrons and stuff. Since most of the atoms in living being are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, which have hybridized orbitals and bonds, chances are every reacted atom is broken down. You could have the electrons & protons (in case of hydrogen) and nuclei of the dead person in you, and since according to quantum mechanics these are indistinguishable, it makes no difference.
People are mostly water. One mole of water is about 18 grams. A mole of water contains about 6.022 x 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules.
As we live we exchange water molecules with the environment constantly.
About 107,000,000,000 people lived before us.
The chances are very good.
An amazing fact that we share atoms from everyone living and dead. This sharing happens every time we breath in when we consume oxygen molecules that were part of every human being who ever lived or is still living.


What is it like to have someone die in your arms?

Krishna: My mother actually breathed her last in my arms. I lifted upper part of her body with my hands and was about to turn her on the bed in an ICU of a hospital to avoid the bed sores when it happened.

The doctors had told us earlier in the day the end was coming, and we were mentally preparing for it. But still it was shattering, because I looked after her all my life, and it was a life time bond of love and affection. I couldn’t control my tears. My heart became very heavy. The feeling that she no longer exists like the person I knew all my life was a bit difficult to negotiate.

The doctors tried to revive her but couldn’t. The ECG graph went flat forever. The doctors said, "Sorry", the most horrifying word I heard for the second time in my life (the first one was when my father died).

This article I wrote tells how I could recover from the tragedies I faced with the help of scientific reasoning:

Science tries to strengthen our minds permanently by making us real...


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