31/12/2015

31 December 2015

An estimated 7,391,613,035 people in this world today, at 17.07 UTC, then 7,391,613,565 at 17.09; with at least four being born each second and about two dying each second. So hello, hello, goodbye, hello, hello, goodbye...

Where will it all end, I wonder, as 2015 closes and the water keeps flowing under our bridge.

29/12/2015

The young ones are laughing at me...

... just because sitting holding the camera high above and behind my head to get them all in shot seemed less bother than standing up.

28/12/2015

Crieff

Under the dome



Adrig decides to decide

Edrig looked at Adrig sitting opposite him in the rather posh saloon bar and admired his elder colleague's fine light grey suit and purple open-neck shirt. Adrig's hair had been cut to about an inch and slicked back smooth, giving him an air of aged refinement. Edrig, quite similarly attired and also with what hair he had cut back, considered how far they had come since, together with Macrig, they had developed their business of simple machinery that to the denizens of 717 would seem like magic. Simple machinery that could weave notes and coins from the garbage they collected from many businesses in their van. Not genuine notes and coins, of course, but so perfectly passable that none had ever been detected, thus far. And the good people of 717 actually paid them to collect the raw materials too!

"Fraudsters," Edrig said, cradling his beer glass in his hand. "Fraudulent counterfeiters and crooks. Baddies. Criminals..."

"Huh?" said Adrig.

"That's what we have become," said Edrig. "Crooks, criminals, thieves."

"Do we do any harm, my boy?"

"That's debatable," Edrig replied.

"Do we hurt anybody?"

"No, we don't hurt anybody."

"Well drink up then," Adrig commanded, "and buy me another one."

"You've had enough."

"I know I have. That is why I want another one."

"Hah! You never change."

And Adrig shrugged a little and smiled at that, while Edrig stood up and walked towards the bar, pulling out his wallet stuffed full of mostly fake cash.

When Edrig returned with the beers Adrig looked across at him and said, "That's it. I have decided."

"Decided what?" Edrig asked.

"Decided what my decision is."

"About what?"

"About my plan."

"You have a plan?" Edrig asked, with a note of concern in his voice.

"I have a plan," said Adrig.

"Uh oh," was Edrig's only response.

(The first phase of our superior beings' adventures on their Sample 717 - your home - can be found in print and for e-reader by clicking here).

22/12/2015

Adrig assesses

Adrig sighed and began to pontificate ponderously but, he felt, profoundly, in response to Edrig’s rather simple question: “Does everything happen for a reason? Ah… The big question my lad. Is everything determined by what comes before it? We acknowledge that events have causes, and for everything not to be entirely predetermined then a single event - a cause - would need to be able to lead to variable effects, or some effects would need to arise at random, or be willed by our own freedom, if it exists. We think we can find fate in many places, in the physics and chemistry and biology of events that must inevitably result from other events. But can we find chance anywhere? Real chance? Or real freedom - the ability to make something happen that was not inevitably going to happen anyway? And does fate really exist in any case? Is anything ever truly and completely determined? Our theory of quantumnyfiction tells us that all we can ever predict are probabilities, denying absolute fate, but are outcomes actually tightly defined in ways we do not know? Well, we do not know. Ha! So we don’t know if anything is determined, or if everything is determined, or if only some things are determined, or if we are truly free to change anything or if we are not. It is a pickle. A pickle that is hurting my head. I think I will seek out some of 717’s fine beer, regardless of whether or not I am truly free to decide to do so.” And Edrig, by means of a high pitched squeak (for they were conversing in Adrig and Edrig speak), agreed that beer was a fine idea. And he decided to decide what to suggest that he and his old accomplice should do next, but of course he couldn't decide if he really had the power to decide or not. But anyway, they drank beer. And as we know, Adrig and Edrig drinking beer was not always, is not always, nor forever will be always, inevitably a good idea...

(The first phase of our superior beings' adventures on their Sample 717 - your home - can, of course, be found in print and for e-reader by clicking here, but much more has happened since and is happening right now, as I am allowed to reveal, but slowly).

Solstice Day


22 December 2015

“There is only one consciousness in this room,” said the oddball philosopher physicist as he addressed the packed hall, and suddenly I felt queasy, and also very alone. Again. It was as if myself was addressing myself, which perhaps I was, and all my youthful madnesses recurred in that moment in my aged mind. But how aged? Sixty years? Or billions of years? Am I really everything? Or at least a little part of it? Are we all? Am I the universe? Are we all? Are we one? And I recalled yet again the epiphanic moment when I had gazed with a manic and drug-induced grin into the eyes of my closest friend and realised that I was looking into my own eyes, for he was I and I was him, it seemed. We are the rising foam on the conscious sea, I thought again, after all those years, as the speaker continued with his hypothesizing. Bubbles rising briefly from the foaming deep. And I felt ill. But I recovered, literally, as I returned to “I”. I snapped back into being the individual, the one, the particle of thought that bursts from the field of universal consciousness, perhaps. The I. The me. The we. The all and everything of the conscious sea.

19/12/2015

Solstice Symbolism

Not nothing

There is actually no such thing as "nothing" it seems, no true vacuum, no absence of anything anywhere at all; although we haven't looked everywhere, of course; but nothing will be found nowhere, it seems, so far; and something is happening everywhere, somehow, always, and now.

18/12/2015

Colourful chemistry

Representing molecules and their atoms and ions using letters such as C, H and O to indicate the elements, as we do, gives a falsely complicated view of the world within us, because every chemical species is really just a combination of protons, neutrons and electrons, and all that really matters - all that controls the interactions that let us live, and think - are the varying patterns of negative charge distribution created by the exterior electrons as they are pulled and pushed around by attraction to the atomic nuclei and the repulsion of neighbouring electrons from one another. So a better, or at least more realistic, way to view the chemical world within us and the drugs we use to alter it is the rather beautiful "electron density" representation that uses colour coding to show whether regions are rich in negative charge or deficient in it or somewhere in-between

For example, appropriate for the days of festive excess, here is paracetamol (acetaminophen):

image from wikipedia.org 

The red-coded regions of a molecule are most strongly pulled towards the blue-coded regions of others, while these regions push away regions that are similar to themselves; and thus the little molecules and atoms and ions move around and interact and react to make us what we are, we think.

Yes, they make us think.

And very fine and lovely they are too.

19 December 2015

Having been busily engaged on a mission of huge significance (to me) and of no significance whatsoever (to everyone else) I had not been to my favoured coffee joint for quite some time when I stood being attended to by a rather flustered young man struggling with the touch-screen of his till.

'I'm sorry,' he said, 'I am slow because I am new.'

'That's okay,' I replied, fumbling to extract a plastic card from my wallet, 'I am slow because I am old.'

He looked at me and I looked at him and we smiled at each other.

'You wouldn't call yourself old if you could see my grandad,' he said.

'Well you wouldn't call yourself new if you could see my pal's new son,' I countered, somewhat lamely, I thought.

'Oh for goodness sake will you two get on with it,' came a woman's voice from just behind me.

I turned to face her, feeling a touch of grumpy old man irritation rising, but then I saw that she was smiling.

'And are you old or new then?' I asked her.

'I'm middling,' she said.

And I looked. And she was.

That's all. Just a brief exchange between strangers.

13/12/2015

Update

The Earth is still spinning and circling the sun, which is still speeding around in its spiral arm within a huge cluster of stars and other strange bits and pieces that, while unimaginably vast to little me, is all vanishingly tiny within everything there is; and my warm wet heart is still beating, beating, beating, and my muddled mind is still minding, minding, minding, and all thanks to the billions of unimaginably tiny dinking and dancing little vibrating thingamywhatevers inside me... and the clock ticks on...

Retreat