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By Anil K Rajvanshi
Since time immemorial mankind has always dreamt of reaching the stars. In all cultures, gods have been depicted as shining beings descending from heaven in flying chariots and blazing machines. Even Shri Ramakrishna, the Indian saint explained in great details how he and Swami Vivekananda came to earth from distant space.
Fascination with stars and space is somehow inbuilt in all of us. Astronauts who have gone into the near-earth orbits and to the moon have always spoken about it as a spiritual experience. The space travel invariably changes them and has a profound positive impact on their thinking. Part of the reason for our fascination with space and stars could be that some of our ancestors came from distant planets, and hence it is somehow embedded in our genetic code. Another reason could be the desire to get away from the pains and miseries of this planet earth and go to other habitable planets which may provide better place to live. This could be the basis of the concept of heaven preached in almost all religions.
Thus, leaving the gravity field of the earth and flying into intergalactic space is somehow deeply ingrained in our brains.
But this travel requires huge amount of energy and resources and with the present level of our technology we have only been able to go into near-earth orbits and few times to the moon. Till we have a major breakthrough in jet propulsion technology and materials, we will remain earth-bound.
Nevertheless, there is enough documentary evidence to show that we are continuously visited by spaceships (UFOs) from distant planets. Obviously these advanced technological societies have mastered the science and art of intergalactic travel. Eventually as we make advancements in science and technology we will also become a space-seeking civilization.
However, a simpler and energy wise cheaper method than spaceship travel is to go via the soul route!
Advanced yogis have claimed that by willing one’s death, one can use the gravity of sun and moon to help the transmigration of soul to other worlds. For example Bhishma Pitamah in Mahabharata stayed on the prickly arrow cot for about six months before he left his body by will at winter solstice – the time when earth is closest to the sun. Similarly, Swami Vivekananda studied the almanac thoroughly before deciding when to leave his body. They obviously understood the effects of gravity on human thought and memory (soul).
Still others have written about space travel during out of body experience (OBE). Carl Jung-the famous psychologist had an OBE in which he traveled to outer space. His experience and vision of the earth as seen from space and written in early 1940s tallied very closely with what the astronauts reported in late 1960s. Nevertheless, OBE space travel is transitory in nature and lasts for few hours.
So how is it possible to will one’s soul out of the gravity field of earth? Quantum mechanics might provide a possible explanation.
In quantum mechanics there is a phenomenon called tunneling which says that there exists a very small probability that a tennis ball can tunnel or pass through a thick wall. Normally we do not see such a phenomenon because of the mass of the ball and hence the probability is extremely small. But it still exists.
In fact, the probability of passing (or tunneling as it is called) of a ball or an object is inversely proportional to the square root of the mass of the particle and the drag by the environment on it. Hence the smaller the mass and the drag on it, the greater is the probability of it’s tunneling through a barrier. Thus, a small particle like an electron can easily tunnel through the wall as compared to the tennis ball. This tunneling effect is not science fiction and is used quite regularly in the design of various electronic circuits.
If we extend this analogy to soul, then we can speculate that it can tunnel through the earth’s gravity field provided its mass is very small. This can happen when it sheds all the memories and becomes a pure thought. Or as Patanjali says, “When samskaras (memories) or gunas (attributes) cease to mutate, the pure Atman remains and the ultimate liberation takes place”. This must be the critical mass for tunneling and the ultimate liberation is to get out of the birth/death cycle on this planet earth.
Another interesting aspect of the quantum tunneling is that, it is an independent force or energy of electron that only depends upon the drag encountered and the “thickness” of the drag wall. Thus a pure soul (Atman) can tunnel through the drag of the gravity field and of the spirit world which is made up of memories of the departed souls.
Hence, if we want to leave the gravity field, then we should try to remove the extraneous memories attached to the pure thought, and this is the whole basis of Yoga. But, this is easier said than done. After all at the time of death, the life-long memories are difficult to forget, and the soul clings to the body. Nevertheless, if we follow the teachings of Gita then all our actions should be done in the spirit of Karma with no attachment to them. If practiced continuously for a long time, this detachment to the rewards of action may allow us to reduce the mass at the time of death and ultimately get out of the gravity field.
Alternatively, we can all work together to make this earth a very nice and hospitable place to live, where the lives of all its inhabitants are emotionally satisfying and sustainable. Then this planet earth will become heaven that we all dream to reach after death. So when we are born again and again on this planet, then we will not have to spend energy and effort to get out of its gravity field.
Gone are those days when people, sports enthusiasts, and governments lined up to host the Olympics. Hosting the Olympics, once seemed to be an immensely prideful event, but it has now transformed into an economic burden. Host cities grapple with a plethora of problems which mainly include construction delays, cost overruns, security issues, and environmental concerns.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has more or less aggravated the problems. The Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for 2022 in Bejing, China. Furthermore, Paris and Los Angeles have been recently nominated as the hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics Games respectively. Both cities have held the Games on two occasions previously, with Los Angeles hosting as recently as 1984. Simply submitting a bid to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) costs up to millions of dollars. Host cities typically have to spend $50 million to $100 million in fees to a slew of consultancy agencies, event management companies, etc.
Hosting the Olympics is more costly than the bidding process. For instance, London spent $14.6 billion for hosting the Games in 2012. On the other side, Beijing spent a lavish $42 billion for the Games in 2008. Meanwhile, the Russians spent $51 billion dollars on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Making, it the costliest Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
Governments of host cities and bid teams love to brag about the legacy of hosting the Games. But the hidden costs of such a massive project is too evident to hide. Such megaprojects require additional employment, as well as subsequent improvement of the pre-existing facilities and public infrastructure. Most of these projects are fraught with costs overruns, shoddy work and a lack of long term vision.
According to a study conducted at the prestigious Oxford University In England, by Danish geographer Bent Flyvbjerg and American journalist Allison Stewart, which looked into the individual economic parameters of hosting the Summer Olympic Games between 1960 and 2012. The findings were astonishing, they found out that the Olympic Games overrun the initial cost estimate with 100 per cent consistency. No other megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overruns.
Athens, in particular, seems to have been the tipping point. The city pridefully hosted the Games in 2004, which ended up costing them €9 billion (a whopping $11 billion at today's exchange rate). The offset of the Games was in disguise the onset of Greece's tumultuous years. The country now is in total disarray, with sky-high unemployment rates, failing economic apparatus, record levels of homelessness, all among the grandiose venues built for the Games.
The conclusion is simple, hosting the Olympics is an extravagant affair. If not planned properly, it tends to result in a severe economic crisis for the host city. If the host city lacks facilities and public infrastructure to support the excess crowds pouring in, not hosting the Olympics may be the best option.
Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.
Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.
Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).
Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.
India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.
He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.
Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.
The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.
Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.
Indian origin girls -- New Jersey-based Natasha Peri (11) and Dubai-based Priyamvada Deshmukh (12) -- have been named in the worlds "brightest" students list based on results of above-grade-level testing of 19,000 students across 84 countries, according to Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY), a part of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
"Peri, a student at Thelma L. Sandmeier Elementary School, was honored for exceptional performance on the SAT, ACT, or similar assessment is taken as part of the CTY Talent Search," said a statement from the CTY.
Deshmukh, a student of GEMS Modern Academy, Dubai, has been honored for her exceptional performance on the SCAT assessment taken as part of the CTY Talent Search, a university statement said.
She was one of nearly 19,000 students from 84 countries who joined CTY in the 2019-21 Talent Search years. CTY uses above-grade-level testing to identify advanced students from around the world and provide a clear picture of their true academic abilities.
Peri took the Johns Hopkins Talent Search test in Spring 2021 when she was in Grade 5. Her results in the verbal and quantitative sections leveled with the 90th percentile of advanced Grade 8 performance.
"This motivates me to do more," she said, adding that doodling and reading J.R.R Tolkien's novels may have worked for her.
Deshmukh took the Johns Hopkins Talent Search test in Spring 2020 when she was still in Grade 6. Her results in the verbal sections leveled with the advanced Grade 10 performance. She made the cut for Johns Hopkins CTY 'High Honors Awards'.
Due to the Covid19, induced delay in Global logistics support, she finally received her much-awaited "High Honors" pin this week, which she lovingly kept in front of her Grandparents photograph as a tribute to her roots.
The delay in officially getting the certificates did not stop her from attending the summer program at John Hopkins University's CTY in English literature where she studied the confluence of Art and Science in literary writing and completed the course scoring 'A' Grade.
She followed up with top-scoring the second level of Asset Talent Examination which also qualified her for the summer program at Northwestern University this year, where she is learning about world-building in fiction writing this year.
Her elder brother was among the first UAE students to have cleared the Duke University TIP (Talent Identification Programme) when he was in Class 8.
Her parents joke that it's nothing but routine sibling rivalry that she wanted to achieve the same, just a year ahead of her brother. Even though she loves Physics and Computer Science as subjects, unlike her elder brother (who is Chancellor's Scholarship holder student of Astro Physics at the University of Massachusetts), Deshmukh wants to pursue humanities and literature when she goes to college five years down the lane.
As part of Johns Hopkins policy, granular information is not broken down by age or race.
Likewise, it is left to the guardian to disclose the prodigy's name. Within the US, awardees come from all 50 US states.
"We are thrilled to celebrate these students," said Virginia Roach, CTY's executive director.
"In a year that was anything but ordinary, their love of learning shined through, and we are excited to help cultivate their growth as scholars and citizens throughout high school, college, and beyond," Roach added.
The quantitative section of the Johns Hopkins CTY test measures the ability to see relationships between quantities expressed in mathematical terms, the verbal section measures understanding of the meaning of words and the relationships between them.