CREATIVE THINKING : Obsessed with change

Updated 04 January 2013
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CREATIVE THINKING : Obsessed with change

There is one thing that I seem not to be able to understand: the modern obsession with “change.” I am well aware that change is a necessary part of life, that everything changes, that … the only thing that doesn’t change is change and every other commonplace, the trite remarks that you all know. I believe that change is necessary when… it is truly necessary. When your car is getting too old and is falling apart, you certainly need to buy a new one. When you realize that you are still wearing a sweater that dates back at least one decade, it’s definitely time to discard it and start wearing a more fashionable one. But what puzzles me is the fact that, every so often, I find that, for example, my e-mail page has been completely re-done. Why? I was totally comfortable with the first one I used; then I had to accept it when it was transformed and now… it keeps happening. I don’t see any improvement, no remarkable new feature, just little transformations here and there that neither make the e-mail easier to use (it is already easy enough, isn’t it?) nor it beautifies the page itself. A few days ago, for instance, I unexpectedly found out that several features had seemingly disappeared (I discovered that I now have to look for them in a “hidden” place). These tasks need now to be carried out in a different, but certainly not better way. On the contrary. Again, why?
I confess that I find it a bit hard to view “all” these transformations, adjustments, upgrading that happen daily in this technologically-driven world of ours as necessary. And not only technology is affected by this new obsession. It appears that human beings, especially the younger generation, have been caught in a frenzy of buying the newest device, of messaging, of texting, and “what’s up-ping” all the time. You hardly see a youngster without the latest iPhone, iPad etc. in their hand. My personal experience is that, when I am in class, I often have to “scold” (!!) my adult students because they believe they can follow the lecture while also using the mobile appendix that is permanently attached to their hand.
This need for “change”, for the “new” at all costs, has created a multitasked behavior that, in turn, is causing a vast lack of attention. People do many things at the same time because they need to move faster and faster. This might mean that quality is deemed less important than quantity. As long as you carry out as many tasks as you can contemporarily, you are fine. The “how” seems not to be particularly important any more.
Therefore change, speed, multitasking etc. are the characteristic features of this new world, as they appear to an “outsider” (such as I), who possibly belongs to the endangered species of those who still believe in a calm, attentive, careful pace of life. An old adage says something like “Those who stop, lose it all.” Well, it seems that most of our contemporaries apply such pearl of wisdom to the extremes and live a fast-paced life that does not leave too much time to observe, to appreciate, to… think! Do I sound a little pessimistic, here? Not at all. This is evolution. This is progress. The world is transforming itself, it is rapidly turning into what Science Fiction has been forecasting for a long time.
The world that most people seem to wish for is the one where everything is automated, where they have devices at their disposal that take care of all their needs, where always faster means of communications are available. And they are getting it. Soon you won’t need your hands to write. Your voice will do it for you. On second thought, I believe that this has already been done.
Eventually, you won’t even use your voice to transmit your message. Wires connected to your brain will do it for you. It’s also possible that you won’t have to walk anymore. You can function from your chair and what you want is automatically brought to you.
Such a future world was portrayed in the hit movie “Wall-E” which, although it had originally been created for children, offers plenty of material for adults to ponder upon. Is this the world that “you” wish to see materialize?
P.S. I have recently read about a new Japanese invention: a “talking fork.” Hats off to whoever is able to convince me about the utility of such “invention” that might justify the expenses for this kind of research.

n E-mail: [email protected]
Blog: recreateyourlifetoday.blogspot.com


New 3-D map of Milky Way will ‘revolutionize astronomy’

Updated 25 April 2018
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New 3-D map of Milky Way will ‘revolutionize astronomy’

PARIS: Europe’s Gaia satellite has produced a “stunning” 3-D map, published Wednesday, of more than a billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, complete with their distance from Earth, their color, and their motion through space.
The eagerly-anticipated catalogue was compiled from data gathered by Gaia on some 1.7 billion stars over 22 months in 2014-2016, from its unique vantage point in space about 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth.
“The dataset is very rich and we believe it will revolutionize astronomy and our understanding of the Milky Way,” Gaia’s scientific operations manager Uwe Lammers told AFP of the massive data release.
“This catalogue is the most precise, most complete catalogue that has ever been produced. It allows studies which have not been possible before.”
Launched in 2013, Gaia gathers data on about 100,000 stars per minute — some 500 million measurements per day. Its first map was published in September 2016, with about 1.15 billion stars.
An update, released at the ILA international air and space show in Berlin, adds stars and provides more data on each one. Some were measured as many as 70 times.
The map contains 1.7 billion stars “for which we can tell where they are in the sky with very high accuracy, and how bright they are,” said Anthony Brown of the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium.
For 1.3 billion of those, “we know their distance and we know how they move through space.”
There is, furthermore, information on the radial velocities of some seven million stars — indicating the rate at which they are moving toward, or away from, Earth.
With all this data, “we can make a map of the whole night sky,” said Brown, who described the end result as “stunning.”
“You see the whole Milky Way in motion around its axis.”
Gaia also revealed the orbits of some 14,000 “solar system objects” — mapped as an intricate spiderweb of space rocks orbiting the Sun.
“It represents the most accurate survey ever of asteroids in the Solar System,” said Brown. More will be added in future updates.
Information sent to Earth by Gaia is collated by 450 scientists from 20 countries.
One of them, Antonella Vallenari, likened the data release to “opening a chocolate box.”
“It’s very, very exciting,” she said at the launch event in Germany, webcast live.
The full data will be published in a series of scientific papers in a special issue of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.