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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.



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If humanity is hurt, God is hurt.

Religion without compassion might give way to hatred. Compassion with a "self-interest" motive is completely irreligious. But of late, some of the religions have departed from those basic human values. Love and compassion are for only those who follow their "specific" faith. Very sadly, the religions are up as trading commodities in the world of proselytization. Better preachers attract more followers. Of course, no issue if they are not vying for their religious "supremacy". But the ground reality is utterly different. The claim for exclusive supremacy has become the first commandment --- a real bone of contention among the existing religions. In the name of religion, we have polluted our minds. we have corrupted our souls. We have also gone so much astray that God must have now shut his gateway to heaven!

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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)

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