Weekly Digest #19
(longarticlealerts! This week we bring to you a detailed set of articles. We highly recommend cosying up with this week’s Digest, in a nice cozy blanket and with something warm to drink!)
Back In Time!
By: Mihir Rao
Ever want to go back in time and change something? Well, through the course of this article, I will talk about time travel and what it is.
In its most basic form, time travel is the ability to travel back in time, using some form of machine or external force. This concept of time travel has literally woven itself into what we watch and read! Let me talk about a few examples:
In the classic ‘Back to the Future’, Marty McFly uses his scientist friend’s time machine to go back in time to the 50’s where his parents were young; But, there’s a twist: His parents aren’t falling in love, and if they don’t fall in love, then they can’t have him as their child, and he will cease to exist. I will talk more about the problem of family in time travel later, but I will move on to a more popular example for now:
Basically everyone on the planet Earth knows who Iron Man and Captain America are, and this film brought upon a crossover which had a magnitude that nobody would have thought of. In this film, Earth’s greatest heroes team up and go back in time to save the day (no more spoilers). I feel, this example wasn’t a really nice incorporation of the concept of time travel, as unlike the other two examples, this movie doesn’t really follow the scientific rules of time travel.
This timeless TV show is a favourite of almost everybody who watches it! The show talks about an alien called The Doctor, who mysteriously arrives on Earth in a blue telephone box to take a companion on adventures unforeseen! The great thing about Doctor Who, is that it doesn’t just ignore time travel completely, and the show follows the rules that you have to follow, which are very delicate. When the Doctor and his companion travel through time, he tells them to not interfere with anything, because it may affect the present (I will talk about this later).
Now, Let me move on to the interesting part: Some ways through which we might be able to do time travel. Actually, before I start, let me establish something, which will help us. Light (speculatively) moves at the speed of time.
Now, without further ado, let’s talk about the ways through which we might be able to travel through time! (I will get a bit science-y for this, so read it at your own discretion :D)
This method is the most approved of, and that is to travel more than the speed of light. When you travel at the speed of light, if you draw a distance time graph, you will see that it will be a straight line (simple, right?) The more distance you go in a span of time, the more steep the line will be. And, if you go faster than the speed of light, then something weird happens: The line bends backwards. It literally goes back in time. A lot of shows that I haven’t mentioned take this method and use it as their plot point (eg: The Flash)
2.This method stems from the first one, but this one is still mostly speculation. In my previous article, I talked about the quirks of space, and in this part of my article, I will talk about one specific thing that might give us a new medium of transport. Black Holes (For more information about black holes, read my article in Weekly Digest #18. Yes, my favourite intergalactic nuclei just cannot stay out of my articles, but this time it is important. Scientists predict that if a black hole spins at a large enough speed, it can become something called a wormhole.
NOW, wormholes are not proven to exist yet, so I won’t really be covering them through the course of this article. If you still are interested, feel free to google it, as it is a very interesting topic.
However, with time travel, comes a plethora of problems that we are yet to solve.
Firstly, we cannot approach the speed of light. I mean, our fastest space probe can only reach less than a thousandth of light speed! That kind of advancement takes a VERY long time.
Secondly, travelling through time takes an amount of energy that is difficult to fathom. It’s almost close to infinity!
The other part of the problem is the paradoxes that eventually arise:
The Grandfather Paradox is one of them. Imagine that you go back in time and you kill your grandfather (very VERY morbid). If your grandfather died, then you would cease to exist! But if you would cease to exist, then no one would be able to kill your grandfather, so you would be alive again!
Another thing is that if you time travel to the past, and you change just a little thing, then that can amount to a multitude of things changing over time. Time always finds a way to make a mountain of a molehill.
My theory (or at least the theory that I support, I don't know if this is my own.) is that time travel to the past is observer based. Like a popular quote says, you can’t change the past. Even if you killed your grandfather, it would end up with you and your grandfather alive again, right before you killed your grandfather, making it physically impossible to change the past. Thus, even if you travel to the past, you are merely an observer.
Even though I love time travel, I don’t really think it should exist. We are privileged to be living in the era of technology (at least that’s my viewpoint, check out Abhimanyu’s article to find out more) and we should be happy that we have our family, friends and everyone in our lives.
‘Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.’
Banksy, Bananas and More: A quest to find the (true) meaning of art
By: Agastya Rao
Modern and Abstract art are two forms of art that have become increasingly popular. While many pieces sell for millions, there are some who say that Modern and Abstract art are not art. If art is the expression of the artist- then what can be counted as true art?
These days, modern art can simply be a streak of paint across a canvas (As I witnessed at Centre Pompidou in France). For more on Centre Pompidou, read my article in Weekly Digest #3.
It is simply labeled, ‘the artist’s expression.’ I'm sure you must be wondering how a streak of paint can be the expression of an artist, and how did it come to sit in a well respected art gallery in France? Even I was completely perplexed, and so I did some digging.
Various Art from places I have been to.
Photo credit- Yale University Art Galley, Mr. Rajshekhar Rao, Mrs. Sapna Khajuria
In my pursuit to discover the true meaning of what can be considered as ‘Art’, I found some good examples of pieces that were initially shunned, but later sold for millions. Read on dear reader...
Banksy- Banksy has come into the limelight for not only being an artist but also an activist. He started off his career as a Graffiti Artist. He brings out political activism through his street art. Can Graffiti and Street Art be counted as art? If they are sold as art at auctions, why not? He made his own version of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series. His rendition featured shopping carts and garbage in a pond- to signify the increase in pollution by humans. If he is expressing himself through art, can his graffiti be counted as art?
There was a time when the work of Impressionists was considered too hideous to be put up in a gallery. Famous impressionist artists like Claude Monet and Edgar Degas’ work was not accepted by many galleries in their time. Now, their artwork is considered extremely valuable and comes with a hefty price tag. The examples of art pieces I am about to show you may cause one or more of these effects-
Make you roll with laughter
Get you very angry
Make your jaw drop
2. The Fountain by Marcel Duchamp-
It all started when artist Marcel Duchamp bought a Porcelain urinal with the signature ‘R.Mutt’ written on it, and submitted it to an art exhibition. Remember, that this was way back when in 1917, and his piece was removed from the exhibition, and later went missing. This threw him into a frenzy and he was furious at it being removed. It was only years later that this piece was accepted as actual art. This brings us to another key point- the acceptance of art and its perceptions change over time.
Photo Credit- Tate Modern
If you were surprised by the second one, this example shall blow your mind...
3. Hotel Room 47- By Sophie Calle
The ‘artist’ Sophie Calle worked at a hotel as a housekeeper/chambermaid. She took photos of the belongings of all the people whose rooms she was cleaning at the hotel. She disregarded the privacy of the guests, and read all their diaries and letters, and went through their luggage. She even used their perfume and their makeup! She made an entire collection on this. Hotel Room 47, is just one of the many pieces! As weird as this seems, this is actually housed in the ‘Los Angeles County Museum of Art'. You can find her observations all written down. In this case, the artist is expressing herself through words- can diary entries and poetry be considered art?
Now for the last example, this one is truly fishy… or banana-y
4. Comedian by Maurizio Cattelan
Photo Courtesy- John Taggart: The New York Times
It was just a normal day at the Miami Art Show, Maurizio Cattelan had got his new piece on display. This particular piece was called, ‘Comedian’. It was a banana duct-taped to a white wall. The name could not have been more ironic, something truly sad and comedic was to happen. Another artist, namely David Datuna, who walked up and ATE the banana. Was the third of the series of bananas. This one, was due to be sold for a whopping $120,000.
Do you think that galleries in the 1920s or the 30s would have accepted this? If a banana was accepted as art, and sold for more than a 100,000 dollars- then what is not art?
I decided that I needed to ask people who had hands on experience in the art industry for their opinion. So, we interviewed Ms Lenika Jacob who is an Art curator, a supporter of small artists, and the founder of Kala Chaupal, for her opinion.
Q1: Is there a set definition of art
Ans- No, there is never any set definition for art. Art lies in the eyes of the beholder. Anything aesthetically expressed or consumed is art.
Q2: Do you think that there should be a difference in ‘Traditional Art’ and things meant to provoke a reaction?
Ans- Traditional art has been practiced for centuries, and both contemporary art and traditional art provoke reactions. There is no difference between them.
Q3: What do you think about Bananas and Spectacles being used as art pieces?
Ans-Art is the expression for the artist. Every artist has subjective ideas to communicate their message.
Q4: As an art curator, what kinds of artworks do you look for to display in galleries?
Ans- I look at art as a means of communication. I look at arts, culture and environment together. I use art to create stories for large audiences, as an organisation. This is different from what art galleries do, which focus on smaller audiences.
Q5: What do you think about why some people dislike Abstract and Modern art
Ans- Art is subjective. Everyone enjoys different forms of art. Some people enjoy realism and images they understand, as opposed to trying to force their mind to understand modern art and abstract art.
To further see what other people thought, we took an anonymous poll. Here is what people think-
Q- Do you consider abstract art to be ‘true’ art?
Result- 50% of the people consider abstract art to be true art. The other 50% did not consider it to be true art.
Q- How many types/forms of art are there?
c)More than 10
Result- 60% of the people said that there were more than 10 types of art forms. 20% of the people said that there are 5-10 types of art forms. 20% of the people said that there were 1-5 types of art forms.
This furthers the idea that we got in our interview, that art is subjective and can vary from person to person. Half the people like abstract art, the other half don’t. Yet again, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
Post confusion conclusion-
After my long and winding journey, I have found one answer to the question, and many other ways to look at it.
“ Art is the expression of the artist, and displays the artists views and emotions. Even though art is the expression of the artist, art can be interpreted in many ways. Sometimes, the artist shows a straightforward message. In other times, the artist leaves the final interpretation up to the viewer. It is said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Similarly, in this case each type of art attracts a certain type and number of viewers. Art is like an acquired taste, some like some form of it, others don’t. My message is that we should always have an open mind, and not shun people because they are different. If we never challenged boundaries, we would never be where we are right now.”
The Two sides of the Technological (not bitcoin) Coin
By: Abhimanyu Rao
Humanity has constantly been trying to make their lives better, whether it’s through inventing gas stoves to decrease the time taken to light a fire, a contact list on a smartphone decreasing the time consuming method of searching for a number in a phonebook, and turning on a coffee pot in one corner of your house, while also turning on the geyser in another corner, and an A/C in another would take at least a minute or two, right? Especially if you had to wait to see if the A/C had turned on, or if it was at the right temperature, but now, with “smart homes” becoming more and more popular, all you need to do is click a button on a phone, or even call out to Alexa!
So while all of this sounds great, what are the real ups and downs of this rollercoaster of technological advancements?
The constant advancements in technology have made life easier (in a lot of ways, and while not all are good, the bad side of this will come shortly), and had helped humans do things that have not only changed the way the world works, and helped people at large, but also people who need these advancements.
Such items, called “assistive technologies” have helped people complete their day to day tasks, and include-wheelchairs, straws, spoons with large handles, or spoons bent at other angles, and even robotic spoons that can feed you if you can’t do it yourself! Evidently, technology has been helpful in this respect, but just giving these examples cannot help.
The technological advancement that has, for better or for worse, changed the course of history for almost all of humanity… The PHONE! The phone has gone from a tabletop ‘landline’ to a smartphone that has everything you need from maps, music players, a video game console, a computer, and a telephone (obviously!) all scaled down into a little pocket sized thingamajig! Without a phone, how many of us wouldn’t have been able to find our way back from a shop in another city, state, or country, or even lost touch with your friends who you moved away from, if you didn’t have a phone?
Robots are the epitome of technological advancements. They have been able to accomplish feats that us humans could only dream of, and I don’t mean world domination. Instead, I mean feats like exploring the oppressively hot Venus, or being a probe in deep space. These Robots also have the potential to help humans in various people in the future, like ‘Mitra’ is doing right now (Happiness Quotient- Weekly Digest #18)
The final helpful technological advancement I will bore you with (That was a joke. I hope i’m not actually boring you :D) Is a 3D-printer! This multi-facetted, versatile machine can create whatever you design, and it has changed multiple lives! If you remember our two-part interview with Mr. Mihir Vardhan (Weekly Digest #4 and Weekly Digest #5), he had used plastic folders and a 3D printer to create face shields for doctors, that helped keep them safe from the virus! Additionally, 3D Printers are used to create organs and appendages for those in need of them. Great machine, eh?
Unfortunately, all great things come with a price, and so do the greatest of the technological advancements in our world, the heaviest price being… dependence.
Though technology makes life unimaginably easy, it also makes us dependent on it. How many children these days can use a map, or start a fire (while you should practice map reading, whatever you do, DO NOT try to practice fire-starting at home, for obvious reasons!), or even remember more than 10 contact numbers? My grandmother remembers at least 100 contact numbers! YES! 100! Simply because she couldn’t rely on technology like smartphone contact lists to remember important phone numbers.
Now let us talk about “Smart Homes”. These revolutionary residences may make life easier, but their reliance on the so-called “Internet Of Things”(IoT) causes some problems. Firstly, the IoT is reliant on the internet, and so, it can be hacked, and therefore, those who use it may unknowingly lose their privacy! Secondly, everything has room for error, and I watched a video which truly enlightened me. This video chronicled the story of a man who lived in a smart home. This smart home had a voice activated door that could only open in response to his voice commands. Then, he had to have a painful looking dental procedure, which caused his mouth to slightly swell up (by now, I presume that most of you have figured out what happens next.). He gets home, and just his luck, as he gets out of the door, it begins to rain. Now, he frantically tries to get the door to open, but his swollen mouth (which doesn’t let him speak clearly) doesn’t allow him entry, and he gets soaked in the rain, here displaying a HUGE flaw in relying on technology.
Before you start stashing all those gadgets away after reading what I have written so far, here are some points that are-
In the defense of technological advancements:
My question for you now is, can you really blame technology for what is being done with it? If you leave a knife in a room, what is done with it depends on who finds it. A chef finding it will use it to cut vegetables, a foodie may use it to cut out a piece of cake, whereas an art thief may use it to cut a painting out of its frame (or a banana off a wall-Agastya’s article), but if he’s a foodie chef with a night job as an art thief, well, then he’s hit a jackpot multitool! Similarly, if people become dependent on technology, can we really blame technology for it?
People created technology with a pure hope of helping people (or did they?-more on that later) and making their lives easier, and there is nothing even remotely wrong with that! Using technology should not necessarily mean losing touch with the basics of doing things without the assistance of technology at all times. At the rate we’re going, in a decade or two, speech to text technology may be so perfect, that people will forget how to write!
This next part is dedicated to all the people who are currently up in arms against my “anti-people” stance. Don’t worry, I don’t favour any side. I am but an observer jotting down what I observe.
In the defense of people:
While it’s true that technology is controlled by the people that wield its power, sometimes technology has been designed in such a way that you cannot put it down. Unending streams of notifications, little circles with numbers on the top right of your
apps, vibrational feedback on video game controllers and the addictiveness of moving a vacuum cleaner (this last one is a personal addition) are just a few examples of how technology gets you hooked to it in such a way, that you, against your better judgement, use these specific appliances to do tasks you can easily do in other ways, like using a broom instead of a vacuum cleaner.
It's time to:
Compute a Conclusion
See what I did there? Computer, technology? Oh, nevermind! Anyway,what can we see for all the information in this exceptionally long article? Technology can help us, and we can do wonders with that help! If Google Home turns on your geyser so you can reach home from work and bathe right then, instead of having to wait for 10 minutes after getting home, those saved 10 minutes on this wait every day can ensure that you have more time to pursue a hobby, (if you find them unimportant, read Mihir’s Article ‘Pandemic Passions’ in Weekly Digest #5). Through this, we will be able to spend greater time on multiple other jobs, and learning new things, like map reading, or any other essential life skills(The Ferocious Five-Weekly Digest #10 ). If we all do this, we will be able to tap into the raw, untapped, and immeasurable power of technology, without getting dependent on it. Finally, Thank you for reading such a LONG article. 😁
By: Agastya Rao
-How many of us baked cakes during the lockdown? I certainly tried my best to. Two students from Mumbai, stepped to lend a helping hand- using their baking knowledge. They started ‘Cakeify’ which sells DIY cake baking kits. These ingenious cake baking kits are easy to use. A part of the three lakh rupees that they earned in 9 months was donated to the Akshaya Patra Foundation. They are using their talent to make a difference and helping the community!
- A woman in Gaza has just made history, and is now officially the first ever female driver in Gaza. All sorts of sexist comments and community stereotypes did not deter from her goal. Her determination to break the stereotypes is truly wonderful. All her clients are women, and she is making a big difference. We hope that she inspires many more people across the globe.
- The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite that will be launched today, a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency will help track global sea levels for the next five and a half years. Let’s hope humankind finds a way to fix rising sea levels by then. You can watch a livestream of the launch on Nasa’s website here.
-The Iberian Cat has come back from being on the verge of extinction for the past two decades, thanks to conservation methods being followed. This is more great news for wildlife!
- The remote island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic which is home to just 245 permanent residents, is currently creating a marine protection zone. This will help protect rockhopper penguins, yellow-nosed albatross and other species found in the region. Small steps can add up to big achievements!
-12 year old musician Grace Moore is all set to become one of the youngest composers to enter the New York Philharmonic. Entering a truly prestigious orchestra at such a young age is such a big feat! Three cheers for this musical prodigy.
By: Mihir Rao
-When light enters the cornea, the information is processed and flipped upside down, and sent to the retina. So the human eye actually sees everything upside down!
-Researchers say that even if the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs did not hit the Earth, the dinosaurs would have survived and would still be a thriving civilization! A lot of scientists thought that dinosaurs were already heading towards their extinction, but scientists and researchers from the UK University of Bath put this rumor to rest.
-In adult men, around 60% of their bodies are completely water, and in adult women, 55% of their body is water! This means that even though we feel like we are solid, we are like big living water balloons!
-Your nose can smell over 1 TRILLION smells, and remember them all! Human noses don’t just smell all of these smells, they can also distinguish between each smell.
Spy Kids 4
By: Abhimanyu Rao
Nitto ATP Finals/ ATP World Tour Finals (Tennis)
The Tennis season is nearing the end for this year! The thrill of the game could not get any higher. Novak Djokovic clinched the year end Number 1 ATP ranking. He has equalled tennis legend Pete Sampras’s 6 time year end number 1 record. Moving on to the final ATP tournament for this year, the Nitto ATP Finals. The winner of the single’s tournament will take home a whopping $550,000. The doubles winners will take home $70,000. Now for the latest fixtures-
For a short background, the ATP World Tour Finals are where the 8 top ranked players in Singles and Doubles battle it out for the coveted and year ending World Tour Finals Title.
-Danill Medvedev is on fire! He defeated Diego Shwartzman in the group stage, to secure his position in the Semi-Finals. He shall take on Rafael Nadal on the 22nd of November, in the Semi Finals.
-After beating Alexander Zverev in the group stage, Novak Djokovic shall go up against 2020 US Open winner, Dominic Thiem in the Semi Finals.
-Rafael Nadal defeated defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the group stage. He shall go against Danill Medvedev on 22nd November in the Semi Finals.
The year end rankings are also out. Here are this year’s Top 5 Ranked Players-
Novak Djokovic- Record Equalling 6th Year End number 1 title ( Also, Australian Open Winner and French Open Runner Up)
Rafael Nadal- French Open 2020 Winner
Dominic Thiem- US Open 2020 Winner
Danill Medvedev- US Open 2020 Semi-Finalist
Roger Federer- Had a slip in his rankings due to injuries. US Open 2020 Quarter-Finalist
After the end of the 2020 season, the NBA Draft for the 2021 season is now over. Here are the top 3 picks-
-Anothony Edwards was drafted as the #1 pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves.He signed a 44.2 Million Dollar 4 year contract with them.
- James Wiseman was drafted as the #2 pick by the Golden State Warriors.
- LaMelo Ball was drafted as the #3 pick by the Charlotte Hornets.
-Lewis Hamilton broke ANOTHER record. He won the Turkish Grand Prix and has now equalled a 7th F1 Title with racing legend Michael Schumacher. Who knows, one more GP win, and he shall be THE best racer in the history of the world.
After a long break due to Covid-19, the Indian Men’s cricket team shall go to Australia to play against them in a series of games. Captain Virat Kohli has taken paternity leave for the birth of his child. For more on this, read Abhimanyu’s article in Weekly Digest #18.
FIFA has cancelled the Women’s Under-17 tournament that was due to kick off in India this year. It has been postponed to 2022, when India shall host it. This does not bode well for the current Indian team, as they may not meet the age criteria in 2022. If the Premier League can continue, why can’t this? What happened to gender equality?
Looking for Books? See how we rank this week’s top book- Pashu by Devdutt Patnaik
Reviewed by: Mihir Rao
Video Book Review #5
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