Clash Of Clans

This happens to be the latest game that I have been playing. It is both a strategy and role playing game. It is played from my iPhone. So I can keep track of it during my breaks.

The player owns a village. The role is to protect it, develop it and plunder the neighbours for resources.  The neighbours happen to be other players.

Resources

There are 3 different resources here:

  1. Gold
  2. Elixir
  3. Gems.

All of them have different roles and not interchangeable. The exception is the gems where it can be bought with real money. In the beginning of the game, the player is given a few hundred gems. These are useful to speed things up. After they have been used up they are gone unless the player is willing to pay for it. The other way is to clear obstructions where there could be gems under them.

Gold can be used for building most structures and to upgrade them. There are 2 ways to get them: build gold mines and plunder neighbours. It can be stored in gold storage. The Town Hall, which is the headquarters of the village can store up to 1,000 pieces of gold.

The catch here is there is a limit of gold one can accumulate. Once the storage is full, you cannot get more even if you continue to collect from mines or plunder your neighbours. You will have to upgrade the storage capacity or buy more storage units. To do that, you need to use a builder and spend elixir for it.

Elixir is used in training new soldiers, research, upgrade and build certain buildings. Like gold, it can be mined from the ground with extractors or plunder from neighbours. The additional source is the grave of invaders.  When you were attacked, you will inevitably killed some of the enemy’s soldiers. The points that they die on will be marked with grave stones. A single tap on one of them will transfer their elixir into the storage. As gold, the accumulation of elixir is limited by the available storage capacity. In order to store more, you will have to upgrade the storage capacity or buy more storage units. To do that, you need to use a builder and spend gold for it.

One renewable resource is builders. You will be given 2, you are willing to use real money to buy more.  Every act of buying new structures or upgrading requires a builder to execute it and it takes time, from seconds to days. Therefore the player must plan all upgrades and new purchases very carefully.

Town Hall

This is the most important building in this game. Whoever loses his/her Town Hall loses the battle. The amount and type of buildings and weapons available to the player is depended the level of the Town Hall. This means one must upgrade the Town Hall periodically in order to have all the advanced features available. The challenge here is it costs a lot of gold and can take days to complete the upgrade. During this period, one builder is tied up.

Barracks

There are to train soldiers. At the most basic level, it can only trains barbarians. Barbarians are cheap and fast to train. They are good for storming and overwhelming the enemy’s defences. The problem is, once they are released, they will only attack the nearest enemy structures.

Once it is upgraded to higher levels, different soldiers are available. The next stage is archers. They can attack at a distance but less destructive power than the barbarians. Their main strength is their ability to attack structures that are protected by walls.

Next stage, giants. They are more destructive and can sustain more attacks. They have a clear preference to attack weapons. This is good because I like to take out my target’s defensive weapons first so that I can plunder them at leisure. They are good at attracting fire from the enemy. The only drawback is they are very slow. By the time they reach the enemy’s weapons, they would have received quite a number of shots.

There are more but I only reach the next stage, which is wall breakers. These are suicide bombers who bring bombs to the enemy’s wall to blow it up with themselves along. They are good for breaking a hole at the enemy’s fortification but so far I find little use for them. I will explain more later.

Laboratory

This is for improving the ability of the soldiers. It costs a lot of elixir but the good point is, it does not need builders.

Defensive weapons.

When a village is under attack, none of the soldiers can help. You have to depend on walls and weapons. There are a lot of weapons available at different levels of Town Hall but I will only describe the ones I have with me. They are:

  1. Cannons
  2. Archery towers.
  3. Mortar
  4. Air Defence

Cannons are the most basic. They can shoot one at a time and only ground targets. Through upgrades, they can have higher resistance and greater fire power. Archery towers work the same way except they can also shoot at air targets.

Mortar is limited to ground targets but it can damage multiple units at the same time through a system called “area splash”.  This is the weapon of mass destruction.

Meanwhile Air Defence is basically an surface to air rockets firing system.

Walls are a crucial part of my defence system. They are both limited and upgradable. I use them carefully to create the best defence to my weapons, Town Hall and storages. When I decide on which village to plunder, I based my decision on how they use their walls because I hate breaking through them.

Attacks

There are 2 modes for attacks, Single Player and Multi Player. The former is just villages in the programme. They are boring and do not have much to plunder. I go for the latter, which consists of villages built by other players. I look for their weakness and will only attack those with lousy defence which I list down as below:

  1. No walls.
  2. Walls not enclosed.
  3. Enclosed walls with unoccupied space.
  4. Walls enclosing buildings other than weapons.

Case 1 and 2 are basically the same. Having walls with gaps is as good as having none. So, I basically launch my attacks nearest to their main weapons like Mortar and plunder them.

Case 3 is quite special. The game allows the attacker to launch attacks at any area that are not occupied by the defender. Some players surround a huge area with their walls which include some unoccupied areas. This means I can launch my attacks from inside the enclosure. So, their walls don’t matter to me.

As for Case 4, one needs to understand that not everything needs to be enclosed with walls. In my case, I put my Town Hall, storages and weapons behind walls. The others are expendables because even if they are destroyed, they will be restored by the time I switch on the game.

Some players put their Town Hall and storages behind walls but left their weapons unprotected. So, what I will do is to attack their weapons first. Once the weapons are destroyed, I can take my time to jack through the walls and plunder.

The Seed Foundation

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Deep Earth 17, base of the Seed Foundation. For your information, we are currently at more than 150 metres below sea level. I trust our recruitment agents have explained to you the objective of this foundation and the hopes we have on you in our preparation for the survival of the human race.

 

For those of you who have read the science fiction series called “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov, this is the equivalent of the Second Foundation and I am the “Hari Sheldon”. The Greed Foundation is the “First Foundation”. You are recruited for your ability and character because we need you for our mission here. Altogether, we have about 7,000 people in this foundation scattered throughout 24 secret bases throughout the planet. Apart from this, we also have more than 3 million people working for us without knowing it because they were employed through cover institutions that we set up. So, this is quite a big organisation although not as big as the other one.

 

You may also have noticed that we are very secretive here and may wonder why. Here is a simple explanation. Suppose we operate in the open and make the location of our bases known. When nothing happens, we are just the subject of party jokes which is not a problem. However, when something bad really happens, everyone will want to break in. Even governments will want to nationalise them. At that time, all our efforts will go to waste. Therefore it is imperative for the existence of this foundation to remain a secret.

 

Here is something about this base. This is one of 24 bases set up throughout the earth. Each of them was designed to operate independently from the rest. This is to ensure the future of humanity in the event some bases were destroyed in the worldwide catastrophe. As long as one of these bases can survive, there is hope for the future of humanity. You will be given a complete tour of this base later.

 

What will happen if there is really a worldwide disaster? We can deduce the following as something we can be fairly sure of:

  1. Destruction to most infrastructures of civilisation. Water, electricity, communication, transportation of necessities and others will be gone.
  2. As a result, governments and commerce will collapse. Money will be worthless.
  3. Even if most people do not die from the event, they will starve to death due to the above factors. This is more prominent for those who live in cities.

 

The above phenomena can be called “the collapse of civilisation”. One of our functions is to prepare for the restoration of human civilisation. Some of you are recruited for your expertise in this area. You will be linked to our worldwide network for your work in this area.

 

However, there are also many unknowns. After all, we don’t know what kind of global disaster we will face. The worst case scenario is a nuclear war. If it happens, most people on the surface will die and the environment at the surface will be rendered inhabitable. So, the Seed Foundation’s people will have to hold up in this base for some time. How long? I have specified that all the bases must be designed to operate for not less than 100 years when sealed off from the rest of the world. You will not starve or choke for this long.

 

Of course, there will be the problem of the next generation. In the event which the only humans are those in our bases are us, we will have the added responsibility to procreate. The natural way will not be feasible. We will have to rely on genetic engineering for that. This is also why we have genetic experts among us. Your job is to work out the best way to create babies if we really have to stay here for a long time. This is also why there are teachers and caregivers among you. We need real professionals to teach our babies.

 

The better scenario is a mega earthquake or tsunami which will cause a global destruction but the surface itself is breathable. When that happens, we will just go out and restore the civilisation but we will not do it directly. We will restore the Greed Foundation and use it as a front for the restoration works. I want to stress here that our works here can only be effective if the rest of the world knows nothing about us.

 

There can also be in-between scenario. For example, a meteor can strike the earth causing a thick layer of dust covering the sky, preventing sunlight to reach the ground. When that happens, all the plants will die. When the plants die, the production of oxygen will be disrupted. All animals will die of either starvation or suffocation. We have scientists working on a way to remove the dusts in the sky.

 

The other scenario is a global plague. We will only be able to go out with suits on. What we need will be the right vaccine. Medical experts, you are here for this reason.

 

There are many other speculated scenarios which you can read at your pleasure.

 

Now, here are the employment benefits and sacrifices. As long as the world operates as usual, you can have anything money can buy, whether it is for your work or personal pleasure as long as the thing you want will not cause harm. However, if disaster really happens, we have to limit ourselves with what we have. The management of the base will be responsible for the allocation of the resources.

 

Your job is based on your expertise. You are selected not only for your expertise but also for your altruistic tendency like your care for humanity.

 

The drawback is, you will not get any glory from the outside world. They will not know of our existence. As mentioned earlier, even if we go out to restore the civilisation after a disaster, we will not do it in the name of “Seed Foundation”. We will find the remnants of the Greed Foundation and support their works to restore it. If they are completely destroyed, we will set up a new one. The world will only think of Greed Foundation as the saviour of mankind, although it is the Seed Foundation that is working behind the scenes. This is to ensure that the Seed Foundation can continue in its work as the insurance policy of the human race.

 

That is all for now. We will have a break now for half an hour before we start our guided tour of the base.

 

 

My Ideal Life Revision 1

I always start my day with exercise. At my current state of wealth, there is nothing I fear more than overindulgence in food. So, exercising is always my top priority in the morning and evening. I start with some stretching and jogging. Despite the fact that I have a fully equipped gym, my favourite workout has always been martial arts. Basically I just repeat the routines that I was thought by the best fighters that I have hired. These routines give me great satisfaction and excitement although I don’t think I will ever get the opportunity to use it.

Here is my martial arts programme. Every month my assistant will approach a top fighter across various disciplines and fly in my private jet to my mansion. Of course, they were paid in an amount which they can never refuse. This is why they are willing to come to teach me. Their job is to spend 2 hours in the evening with me to teach me everything they knew in their arts. So far, I have learned the fighting skills from almost every part of the world. Revising the setups is a complete workout by itself.

After the workout, I take a shower and join my family for breakfast. I would like to highlight here that just because I can afford any food money can buy, I do not go for the most expensive because the most expensive food does not always good for health. I value health above all when it comes to food. Most of the food in my meals comes from plants planted organically around my mansion.

Despite my achievements, I still live a humble life. I only have one mansion that occupies the area of only 2 football fields, less than 10 stories high and located in the middle of a small garden which is only as large as 10 football fields.  One of the criteria I set for my architect for this mansion is it must be well ventilated to reduce maintenance cost and has lots of plants. The plants are all food producing types. Why is that so? Since, I am having plants, I might as well have plants that produce useful things like food.

After breakfast, I meet my team for work. At my wealth, I can do anything I want without having to work but without work, I will be directionless and purposeless. This is the curse that has ruined the lives of many of my counterparts. When they were poor, they climbed their way up to be rich. Once they got rich, they spent their lives indulging in leisure. However, when they became immune to it, they became lost. They ended up destroying themselves, their families and everything they worked for.

I am not going to follow their path. I still have my greed in me. I have set a purpose for myself and it is not about making money. Speaking of money, I have stopped trying to manage it. My wealth has grown to such a level than I suspect if I am to find out how rich I am, I will go crazy due to brain overload. Suffice to say, I can afford anything money can buy. As for managing them, I have one battalion of accountants in each continent to handle them. This means I can dedicate my life for the purpose I created for myself.

Here is my purpose: To be the Hari Seldon in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series. Here is a brief explanation. In the story, Hari Seldon lives in a human controlled galactic empire. He was able to predict that the empire will collapse and humanity will live in the dark age until the next empire forms again. In order to reduce the duration of this dark age, he sets up 2 foundations situated at the opposite end of the galaxy. The purpose of these foundations is to guide humanity into a new civilisation after the galactic empire has collapsed.

I am doing the same to guide the human species to reach greater height in civilisation. The first foundation I set up is called the “Greed Foundation”. Its purpose is to help humanity to progress. This involves humanitarian aids in many poor countries. I have sent experts to help poor farmers to increase their harvests, set up schools, build hospitals, dig wells and even create industries to give the poor people a chance to live their lives in greed.

I went to a few of the villages myself and witnessed the transformation there. Millions of people are no longer suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Children get to go to schools to learn English, mathematics and science. I may not be able to remove the superstition from the current generation but I want to use education to create a scientific literate generation.  I believe science is what the species need to progress to the next level.

Overall, the achievements of the Greed Foundation have been obvious. Through this foundation, many lives have been saved from starvation, malnutrition and disease. However, there are still people out there who really hate me for what I have done.  I categorise them into 2 groups:

  1. Anti-prosperity fanatics.
  2. Religious fanatics.

These people hated me because I am rich and not ashamed to admit that I am still greedy. The first group are against me for the word “greed”. To them greed means evil despite the fact that I have shown very clearly that greed can also leads to kindness and love to others. I guess they are angry because I defied their definition.

The second group is more creative.  One preacher told his congregation that God revealed to him that I was sent by the devil to mislead people from the true Faith. The humanitarian works done by my Greed Foundation is to blind people’s eyes to the great evil I am supposed to bring to them.

However, the more popular accusation is I am the Antichrist. As I think of it, there is one similarity. I own significant shares in all the major companies dealing in world trade. Other than that, I am not interested in fulfilling the Bible prophecies for the Antichrist. The only prophecy I want to fulfil is my own.

I want to see humanity to reach for the stars. I want my species to be a star faring race. I want human beings to build settlements all over the galaxy. I know I will not live long enough to see it. I just contend to be the one who helped to start it.

This is what my first foundation is doing. I still have a second one which I call the “Seed Foundation”.  It is a backup in case the earth faces a global disaster that wipes out the civilisation that we know of. Let me explain. We have disasters at various places and times. Until now, these disasters are shortlived and localised. For example, if one place has a big earthquake, people from unaffected areas will send aids to help the victims. Meanwhile, other parts of the world continue to progress.

My problem is, what if we have a really big disaster like a mega earthquake, meteor strike, plague or any unexpected event that wipes out 99% of our population? Will the remaining 1% survivors be able to restore our civilisation or will they be sent back into Stone Age until the whole species extinct?

The Seed Foundation is set up for this purpose. While the Greed Foundation does its works openly, the Seed Foundation operates behind the scenes. I have set up secret bases throughout the world stocked with food supplies, technology and information to restore the civilisation in the event we really need it. This is a really big challenge because I don’t know what the big disaster could be. I do not even know I am still alive when it happens. It may happen tomorrow, next year, next decade or even a few hundred years later. Whatever the case, it is good to be prepared.

If there is no global disaster, the Greed Foundation will propel humanity to the stars but if something really deadly happens, I have the Seed Foundation to serve as a beacon of light guiding humanity to its way of progress.

These 2 foundations have giving me a purpose for living. I will cherish every moment of my life living it.

Positive Outcome From The City Harvest Church Saga

This is currently the hottest news in Singapore right now. It inspires lots of conversations, debates on what really happened and the consequence on it. I am contributing my portion in this article. Let me begin by stating clearly that I have no intention to speculate on what will happen to the affected pastor and his friends after the trial. This article is not about the court case but rather on how the response of the church members and the circulated YouTube sermons of the affected pastor can lead to positive result for Christianity as a whole.

Here are the few areas that I will explore on:

  1. Mindless drone syndrome.
  2. Asking for money without shame.
  3. Helplessness of Poverty Gospel

Mindless drone syndrome.

I have mentioned this phrase in many of my articles as well as my ebook “10 Lies Of Religious Christianity”. What I mean is the phenomena where individuals who have been trapped, are incapable of thinking for themselves. They think what they were told to think and believe what they were told to believe.

This sounds like the practice of evil cults but the truth is, many religious churches have been trying to blackmail their members into such drones through their doom and gloom sermons sprinkled with lots of relevant Bible verses. Phases like, “you will answer to God”, “God is not pleased” and “judgement day will come” are among the common tactics used by religious preachers to instil fear into the hearts of their members in hope that they will become obedient sheep (mindless drones) to the church leaders.

Of course, most Christians are too intelligent to fall for such tricks. Most Christians have developed a clear separation between faith and facts. They may go to church every Sunday and listen to the rubbish (sermons) preached but once they set their feet out, they were transformed back into human beings living in the real world. They do not participate in missions and crusades. They respect people who do not share their faith. They may give some money to their church but they will never sell their houses and give all the proceeds to their church. They are sane. Only a small minority in every church really believe in those threats and fell for it.

In this saga, the responses from the church members to the arrest and subsequent charges to their beloved pastor show that this church has achieve great success in doing what its competitors have been trying to do.

Those members are convinced beyond doubt that their pastor is completely innocent regardless of evidence. They are so full of faith that they will not even entertain the slightest “what-ifs”. Based on their comments, it seems that they are determined to fight beside their beloved pastor at all cost.

The question here is on whether their confidence is justified. Some of them tried to share with us the reason of their dedication. All of them have the same theme. They were once living rotten lives. They went to this church. The great pastor ministered to them, showed them the love of God and raised them up to who they are now.

However, none of them ever question on how relevant are such testimonies to the charges of falsifying accounts faced by their pastor. Just because an individual has been inspiring and loving, it has no relation on whether he intentionally or unintentionally put in wrong words in the accounts book.

Can anyone find a better example on the mindless drone syndrome?

So how does this exposure benefit Christianity as a whole? I am hoping that this incident will shock the preachers from the belief that you must be an obedient sheep (Christian term for mindless drone) to be a Christian. The Bible tells us that we were made in the image of God. If God can be an independent thinker, why can’t we? Why would God give us the ability to think independently and then created churches to blackmail us into behaving like mindless drones?

This is the time for churches to reform their practice of exalting mindless obedience to the celebration of independent thinking. We are living in the real world and the real world does not follow the Bible. God gives us functional brains because he wants us to use them. The best way to please God is to use the things he gives us. In case somebody might wonder, obeying the preacher without question does not require the use of brains.

It is alright to do things because it is the right thing to do. We don’t need to stick bible verses to justify our actions.

Asking for money without shame

This happens to be the reason I left my first church. The way those pastors used manipulative tricks to squeeze money from the congregation has shown me that these are men without shame.

In this saga, YouTube videos showing the pastor asking for money have been circulated and widely criticised. Many attributed it to the “false teachings of prosperity gospel”. However, they seem to have ignored the fact that “Poverty Gospel” churches also used dirty tricks to ask for money.

My first church belongs to the “Poverty Gospel” camp and the pastors are no less shameless in demanding money from their members. I can still remember the phrase used. “God has provided us the money. It is in your pockets.” Implying that the money in our pockets rightfully belong to the church.

How does this help Christianity as a whole? Perhaps preachers will develop a sense of shame of demanding money from their church members. They will need to understand that their members worked hard in their real jobs to earn their money. They need it to support their families, pay bills and set aside for contingencies. The money does not belong to the church. Preachers should learn to respect that.

If preachers are in need of money, they should either do better jobs, get it from their God or do some other real work to get it. Not using their sermons to demand it from their members.

Helplessness of Poverty Gospel

I have mentioned the term “Poverty Gospel” earlier. Let me give you the meaning now. I created this term based of the relative frame of reference. A observer from Fraction A accuses those from Fraction B of preaching the prosperity gospel. What does he call his “gospel”? He has no name for it because his gospel is the true gospel.

Now, let us shift the frame of reference to the observer from Fraction B.

If he follows the same pattern of thought, he too will call his gospel the true gospel. He will call those in Faction A something gospel.

Poverty Gospel is only a name for the something gospel.

Let me give you the characteristics of this gospel. The common feature is the fear of the promise of health, wealth and any other things that can be proven objectively. They prefer to be safe in things that cannot be proven objectively like the “spiritual” and “treasures in heaven”. This way, they will not face the risk of being wrong.

Within this fraction, there are 2 sub-fractions, the moderates and the fundamentalists.

The moderates do not really hate prosperity. They are just uncomfortable for church and prosperity to be mixed together. As long as prosperity is preached outside the church and with no reference to Bible verses, they are fine.

In contrast, the fundamentalists are totally opposed to Christians living wealthy lives. Any form of comfort and luxury is sin to them.

How does this affect them? For many years, Poverty Gospel churches have been losing members to their Prosperity competitors. Now that the City Harverst Church, (which is from the Prosperity Fraction) is suffering from negative news, it will be an opportunity for them to take advantage on this situation to grab back their market share.

Have they succeeded? My bet is they won’t. At best they can slow down the decline on membership. People may still leave and it is very unlikely for the Prosperity Fraction to cross over to the poverty side. Can you guess why?

Christians are real people living in the real world. They have their dreams and aspirations. They want to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. They want to have things and do things without being constrained by the lack of money. They are also not perverts, meaning they do not delight in suffering from sickness and poverty.

The prosperity fraction has been successful because they treat their believers as real people. So, if the poverty fraction is really serious in surviving in this competitive world, they will have to meet the needs of their members who are real people living in the real world. Hiding behind outdated and impractical doctrines will not help. Neither does the excuse of “serving God” help. You are preaching to people not God.

Therefore, it is my hope that the poverty fraction will start to reform themselves to make themselves relevant to the people whom they expect to give them money.

The Magic Of Mathematics

Mathematics! What a demonic word is this? Mathematics means different things for different people.

To some people, it is something to be avoided at all cost. It means pain, suffering, confusion and pure torment. Maybe they think that hell is a place where its inhabitants are forced to solve mathematics problem every day for eternity where heaven is the place where all traces of mathematics is banned forever.

Many others treat is as a necessity of life. They may need it in their jobs or to pass their examinations. They treated in with “professional” respect, learn what they can with the intention to use it to advance their career to the next level.

A small minority like myself see it as pure magic. It begins from nothing. You draw some lines, curves and numbers. Put them into equations, move the components around and a whole new universe is created. This is what I called “magic”. In this article, I shall elaborate more on this phenomena call “mathematics”.

Mathematics begin when people learned how to count. I don’t know much about tribes but based on what I have learned, some tribes do not have words for numbers above a certain limit. For example, they may have words for number 1, 2 and 3 only. Number 4 onwards are classified as “many”. Based on this limited vocabulary, one can deduce that such tribe could not have planned far. As far as they have the word for the largest number.

They could not have done much engineering and will be disadvantaged at war. Imagine this, when you organise an attack on them, what you have to do is to send in say 50 soldiers to set up a camp. The next day, hide 20 of them and order the remaining 30 men to leave. The tribesmen would have interpreted it as many people came and many left. They could not tell the difference between 50 and 30. Neither could they work out that there are 20 men still hiding.

No civilisation could have existed without the knowledge of basic mathematics which involves counting and arithmetic. If any of them really existed, they would have been replaced by the process of natural selection in mathematics.

In short, any civilisation that managed to exist knows the value of mathematics. Many of them developed it independently and yet it is consistent regardless of the culture it comes from. This means that regardless of which part of the world you are from, the rules of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are all the same.

Mathematics is therefore absolute and independent of one’s culture, geography and history. This is the opposite of religion. All civilisations also created their religions which tell them how their world was created, what can or cannot be eaten, how to live their lives, fight their wars, what type of structures they have to build for their gods etc. However, all religions differ from one another and are dependent on the culture, geography and history that created them. Therefore, unlike mathematics, all religions are relative and non-absolutes.

What this means is mathematics is the anchor of stability in the midst of a changing universe. Through mathematics, we can be assured that there are absolutes in this universe that will not be changed and independent from changes in discoveries, technology breakthroughs and trends. In mathematics, we have the rights and wrongs clearly proven and defined. What was proven right will be right forever. It is the island of stability in the midst of chaos.

One may ask, “How about other branches of science?” The difference between mathematics and other sciences like physics, chemistry and biology is mathematics consists only of deduction and the manipulations of numbers. It does not depend on experiments or observations at natural processes. This means new discoveries have no impact on the established mathematical laws.

The above phenomenon is also a drawback for mathematics itself. Since it is independent from the natural processes in the world around us, it is useless by itself. All the equations and laws created from it are useless unless we can put meanings behind those variables. The only way to do it is to conduct experiments, observations and followed by precise measurements to produce raw data. Feed it in the equations and we will have working mathematics.

Then again, how accurate are those measurements from experiments and observations? This is where the problem lies. Whatever discovery we made based on the observations today may be proved false tomorrow because tomorrow we may have better instruments or new events. Science is in constant flux. What is true today may not be so tomorrow due to new discoveries.

However, I need to stress here is that the changing portion is in the raw data that comes from observations and not from the mathematical process. The mathematical laws, once proven true are true forever.

So much for the consistency.

What I find so fascinating about mathematics is, it is purely the product of the brain. It was conceived in our brains. The sketches and equations we see on papers and boards are merely the representations of it. When I study this subject, I don’t see numbers flying around. Instead I see the thought processes that transform one state to another in a series of logical steps. You don’t even need expensive equipment like particle colliders for that. Just a pencil and a few pieces of papers , the rest is up to your brain to create your own miracle.

Mathematics had brought me much joy when I was in my pre-university days. I was fascinated by it. When I saw my teacher transforming equations on the black boards, I was mesmerised. After the final answer was out, I wanted to stand up, clap and shout in joy but I never did that because I was afraid others might think I am crazy or something. When I repeat the same process on paper and successful in completing the steps, I felt like a wizard. I have created my own magic spell. Doing mathematical exercises is like practising my magic. I felt like I was god.

Unfortunately, my priority then was to secure a place in the university, not to appreciate any subject. When the time came, I got into engineering. In case you are wondering on why not mathematics, the answer is, it is purely out of practicality. How much can an mathematics and physics graduate earn compared to an engineer?

I was not born in a rich family. So money is a high priority to me. As I think back, I wonder what would have happened if I opted for physics and mathematics instead? I don’t know.

Another quality of mathematics is it is universal and consistent even among species.

Suppose we encounter an alien civilisation. How do we deal with the first contact? We cannot assume their norm as the same as ours. We think of oxygen and water as the necessities of life but it might be toxic to their biology. We can see lights within a certain band of wavelengths but they might see it in a separate band. Then we can see what they cannot and vice versa.

The only common ground we can establish is through mathematics. The fact that these aliens can create a civilisation shows that they know some mathematics. They should have the same laws on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. They should have the same value for pi and natural number e. They should know the meaning of prime numbers. All these can be used as the common ground to establish the first contact.

Enough of aliens. As we move forward, I believe we can progress at a faster rate if we can have a mathematician in every research team. The reason is because no other non mathematical faculties or departments in institutions of higher learning can teach all the mathematical topics to their students. They are bound to leave out certain topics that they think as irrelevant. Those irrelevant could become relevant in specific cases. It takes fully qualified mathematicians to identify that.

In having an in-house mathematicians we can have a higher chance of constructing mathematical models to analyse and confirm new discoveries. In fact, software companies and hedge funds have already begun to appreciate the importance of mathematicians in their teams. It is my hope that the rest of the economic sectors can do the same.

If you are a mathematics graduate or undergraduate reading this, I want to tell you that I am envious for being in the studies that I truly desire. However, I am not so envious of your economic prospects compared to your engineering counterparts. My wish is for the society at large to have better appreciation on our talents.

The Process Of Science

In the previous post, I have given a brief introduction of science. I have checked the meaning itself from the dictionary and find the definition of science to be totally appalling. Somehow, they have the idea that science is just organised knowledge. The truth is science is more than that. Just because someone can organise some kind of knowledge, it does not make it “science”. For example, it is possible to organise the knowledge of astrology but it is still not science.

The question here is what makes science, science? The answer lies in the process. In this article, I am going to explain this scientific process that separates science from superstition.

Here we go. The process of science can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Identify a field/ phenomena to study and understand.
  2. Deduce or guess possible hypothesis to it.
  3. Conduct experiments and tests to verify the above hypothesis.
  4. The hypothesis that is able to pass the test will be taken as the true explanation until proven otherwise from the above process.

The above is very brief and therefore I will explain further.

 

Identify a field/ phenomena to study and understand.

There is no limit on what science can study. It is up to personal preference or the necessity of the time. Here are some examples:

 

  • Ancient civilisations devote resources to study hydrology and botany because they want to increase food production. As food productivity increased, they can support larger population, which in turn created more soldiers, artists, scientists and engineers which in turn make the civilisation stronger.

 

  • During the early stage of the Industrial Revolution, a lot of accidents happened due to explosion of boilers. Efforts were made to study these phenomena which gave rise to the creation of thermodynamics.

 

  • The study of medicine has always been important in all civilisations because no one likes to suffer from illness.

 

Apart from the above necessities, science was pursued out of pure interest. The most obvious example is astronomy. People have been staring at the night sky for generations wondering that is up there. It was only after some time that they conduct scientific study on it.

In short, there is no area of knowledge that we cannot apply scientific knowledge on it. This includes areas like astrology or God. How to do it? Let me show you some possible way.

In order to verify whether astrology can affect one’s luck, all you have to do is to gather the birthdates of all the lottery winners, tabulate them according to constellation at those dates and see if there is any “lucky” constellation.

If a believer is to argue that the luck component is month specific, then all we need to do is to group the winnings into various months. If the result of the study can show that there is a huge uneven proportion of winners in a certain month that were born under a certain constellation, then astrology is true.

The same can be done to the study on the affect of God. Gather a group of people with terminal illnesses and divide them into various subgroups. Each subgroup is to pray to a specific God. One of the subgroup is not to pray to anyone in order to serve as a control. If the result shows that a single subgroup has an excessive high rate of healing, then it is proof that the God it prays to is the true God or at least the most productive.

So, there is no area that science cannot be conducted on. The challenge is to determine the methods.

 

Deduce or guess possible hypothesis to it.

There are 2 ways to this:

  1. Deduce the most logical and simple hypothesis.
  2. Guesswork.

It is obvious that the first option is the preferred one. Everything else being equal, the hypothesis that is the most logical and simple will be preferred as the answer. It is only when the above does not work, will we result to guesswork and test it.

This is why the God Hypothesis will never be considered as an acceptable answer. In science, we use the known to explain the unknown. We do not use the greater unknown to explain the relatively lesser unknowns. The God Hypothesis is the greatest unknown ever existed in human history.  This means it is unfit to be use as an explanation.

This is something that religious fanatics cannot understand. In their minds “God did it” is the only answer. If all of us think the same, then there is no science because “God did it” can be literally used to explain everything.

We do acknowledge that there are many things that science cannot answer. Some of them might never be answered at all. However, that does not mean we must adopt the God Hypothesis for all the questions that we cannot answer. That is foolish, irresponsible, lazy and disrespectful to God. This is like telling God, “God I am putting you as the solution because I don’t know the real answer. After I find out what the real answer is, I will throw you out.” The God Hypothesis is pure blasphemy to both God and science.

Let me move on to guesswork. There is nothing wrong with guessing in science. In fact, many scientific breakthrough happen because there were scientists who guessed the answers which later found to be true. This is where the creative part comes it. Being creative and the ability to think out of the box are a part of the qualities to be scientists but this does not exclude vigorous testing.

 

Conduct experiments and tests to verify the above hypothesis.

This is the hard work part of science. Just because one can cook up an explanation, it must not be taken as true until tested. There are ways to test hypothesis. The best is through experiments where we create setups for the phenomena and measure the results. If experiments are not possible, then we will need to gather data and do statistical study.

The above studies will tell us one of the following:

  1. The hypothesis is completely true.
  2. The hypothesis is completely false.
  3. The hypothesis is true if conducted only under specific circumstances.
  4. Only a portion of hypothesis is true.

The first 2 possibilities are clear cut. It is either true or false. The next 2 are the ones that makes science interesting. When to do experiments and study the statistics, we will not only get the true or false result, we gather new information which can help us to enhance our understanding and thus add to our initial hypothesis. Not only that we can create new field of knowledge out of it. The Theory Of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics were discovered this way. These 2 fields are what I call “common sense unfriendly”. They were discovered from experiments that did not yield the expected results.

Experiments and statistical studies can add to our knowledge.

The main weakness to this step is, we may not have access to the complete data. As I explained earlier, we humans were never fully equipped to be scientists. Our senses are pitifully limited compared to what is available in the universe around us. As our technology improves we will gather more data that we could not get before. Some of these new data may even prove that the answers we got in the past as false. When it happens, we will have to revise those theories and form new ones.

Being a scientist demands the ability to reject earlier “proven” theories if the current data proves otherwise. This is the characteristic that separates science and religion. Science is not ashamed of changing minds and beliefs. In science, being a heretic and blaspheme against earlier proven theories are healthy practices as long as one can produce sufficient evidence to support this heresy. No religion can do this.

This tells us that science and religion are at the opposite end of the logic spectrum. Does it mean no one can do both? The answer is, many have done both and the way to do it is adopt the discipline to separate both.  When you are in your religious mode, you are free to believe in the things in it like making the world in 6 days, talking snake, dinosaurs in Noah’s Ark, walking on water and other miracles but when you are out of in and step into the real world where science is the way of progress.

 

The hypothesis that is able to pass the test will be taken as the true explanation until proven otherwise from the above process.

This is the part where the scientists publish the results to be verified by their peers. If the results are significant enough, the results may even in incorporated into textbooks.

As explained earlier, just because a certain theory is verified as true, it does not mean that it will always be true. Future data may prove otherwise. Science is a dynamic process. It exalts us from mere surviving into progress, teaches us to be open minded and most importantly makes us truly civilised.

The Power Of Science

If I am allowed to use a single word to separate humanity from the rest of living things on earth, I can only think of “science”.  Through our understanding in science, we have risen beyond survival centred living into progress centred living. In other words, we no longer live our lives in trying not to die but to achieve the next level of progress.

 

Definition Of Science

What exactly is science?

This is what the dictionary says:

sci·ence  [sahy-uhns] Show IPA

noun

  1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
  2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
  3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
  4. systematized knowledge in general.
  5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/science?s=t

 

In my opinion, the above definition is totally meaningless. Let me give you a better definition of science:

Science involves the following steps:

  1. Identify an observed event.
  2. Guess possible explanations to this event.
  3. Conduct experiments and tests to eliminate those explanations.
  4. The one explanation that remains, no matter how improbable will be accepted as the true answer until further contradicting data comes along.

 

Through the above procedures, our species had not only gained knowledge on what have been going on around us, we progressed to make use of this knowledge to elevate ourselves to the next level. Not only that we managed to eliminate many false ideas which we call “superstitions”.

 

Science As An Antidote For Superstition

We no longer live in fear each time we encounter an eclipse of the moon or sun. Eclipse is nothing more than shadows. There are no “sky-dogs” up there in the heavens wanting to eat up our sun and moon. We do not have to worry of getting strike by lightning if we do not follow some religious routines because we not only know how lightning works, we know how to control its powers. So if lightning is a manifestation of the judgement of God, then we have overcome this judgement by installing some lightning rods and copper tapes on our buildings.

 

When earthquakes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods or any other natural disaster happens, we know they are the result of the law of physics. They were not caused by the “Judgement Of God” as some con artists claimed to be in order to scare the public into giving them money.

 

In short, our knowledge gained through science has set us free from the bondage of stupidity and superstition.

 

Here is a disclaimer. I do realise that there are still con artists out there who had successfully made a living by proclaiming the “Judgement Of God” after every disaster. The only reason this can happen is their victims did not pay attention in their science class. So, the moral of this story is, a scientific illiterate and his money are soon parted.

 

Limitations Of Common Sense In Science

Many people have this misconception that science is common sense. The truth is, such belief was true in the beginning of scientific pursuit. Earlier disciplines like classical mechanics, wave theory and thermodynamics are very common sense friendly.

We can throw up an object, drop it from height and slide it on a smooth surface to see Newton’s Laws at work. Ancient armies had been using it to hurl stones to their enemies’ fortifications even before they could fully understand the law behind it.

 

Drop a pebble into a pond of still water and you can see the wave theory come to life. Thermodynamics can be seen in the kitchen when the cooking process is in progress.

 

In short, the above are clear and easy to understand. Then, we discovered electricity and magnetism. At first, we thought of them as separate phenomena but we have learned that they come together. So, we call the combined entity as electromagnetism.

 

While electromagnetism may give us the “magical” feeling, it is entirely scientific because it is predictable and controllable. We can switch on and off our electricity supply, control its properties and even use it to perform logical functions, which had given rise to the invention of electronic computers. We know electromagnetism is true even though we cannot understand it as well as we understood the Newtonian Laws of Motion because experiments, tests and applications had confirmed on what we know.

 

This is the part where we begin to rely on the discipline of science to identify the truth even if  we could not fully understand it.

 

Then, as if the world is not strange enough, we stumbled on even stranger truths in relativity and quantum mechanics which totally defy our common sense.

 

Why is that so? The above disciplines had revealed knowledge of the world beyond the world we live in (which consists of billions of atoms and moving at speed that very small compared to the speed of light) to the extremes like the world of very small, very fast etc.

 

In the world of the extremes, things work very differently from what we think as “normal”.

 

Here is an example.

 

We live in the world where what goes up must come down and water makes us wet. We take for granted of the water “wetness” and focus more on gravity because it gives us more problems.  However, if we are as small as the ants, things become reverse.

 

If you are as small as an ant, gravity is not much of a problem. The main problem is the surface tension of the water. At this size, water droplets will appear like a huge boulder in the middle of the road. If you do not careful, you might walk into the “boulder” of water and get drowned. On the positive note, you don’t need cups or buckets either. You can literally hold a sphere of water in your hands.  Instead of wiping your wet floor, you simply pick up the balls of water on your floor.

 

However, if you are to shrink even smaller into the subatomic level, the world is even stranger. You are no longer limited to a single space at a given time.  You can be present at more than one location at the same time. No one, including you yourself can identify your own location. Instead, you can only define the region of space where there is a high probability of you being there.

 

If you know where you are, you don’t know how fast you walk. If you know how fast you walk, you don’t know where you are. If you stand still, a huge cloud will surround you where you can be anywhere inside the “cloud”.

 

This is the world of very small. What happens when you move very fast until you are close to the speed of light? You will experience time dilation. Time flows slower for you than the rest of the world.  If you look out, you may think that the rest of the people are moving in a fast forward manner while they may see you as moving in slow motion.

 

It is important to note that the above ”strangeness” are strange only because they are not common in the world we live in. If we have been living in the substomic scale or have the facilities to travel at close to speed of light, then they are normal to us.

 

Our brains were evolved to find ways to survive. Not to understand the universe. Our diversion into science is more of a side track from the “purpose” of our existence.

 

Here is another fact. We like to think our senses as powerful but from the cosmic scales they are extremely limited. For example, our eyes are definitely better than nothing but they can only detect a very narrow range of electromagnetic waves (which we call “visible light”) that exist in this universe. We cannot see electromagnetic waves with higher and lower frequencies of this range like infra-red, radiowaves, gamma rays, X-rays etc.

 

This tells us that we humans are not adequately “equipped” to be scientists. Our brains and sensors are too primitive for that. Yet we did not give up and made great progress in understanding the universe. What we lack in our sensors, we use artificial sensors to “see” what we cannot see. What we lack in our brains’ imaginary function, we use mathematics to make up for it.

 

In conclusion, the enterprise of science has elevated us beyond our natural limitation. We are no longer subjected to the limitations imposed by our genes. If the Creator has a purpose for our existence, we must have exceeded it.

 

Suppose there is a God up there. What will he think? It depends. If God is an insecure, obsessed with self-glory and low self-esteem person, he must be feeling threatened by our progress. It is only a matter of time when he will want to sabotage our Tower Of Babel.

 

However, if he is an honourable, moral and with healthy self-esteem, I suspect he will applaud our achievements.