Why Do We Solve for X Teaser
Video

Why do we solve for X? [Infographics]

I’m taking a course on Udacity (Computer Science 101) to learn Python and simply learn coding as best as I could. Even though I have over 6 years of coding experience, it’s surprising how much I learnt by simply absorbing information like a sponge.

In one of the discussion forums on Udacity, someone mentioned why the variables that we select are nearly always “X” – why do we even solve for X? This question blew my mind, and I went out to search for answers and stumbled upon this video from TED:

This information was so fascinating and interesting! So much history and story behind the science of Algebra that I decided to create a simple infographics on why we use “X” as the unknown.

It’s wonderful to see how information traveled in the past. It is stated by both the TED video and information on research sites that it traveled via scholarly and/or trade means. But that brings out more questions, who were the scholars that visited different regions in order to learn about Algebra? Who was the Spanish mathematician that translated the “The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing”. I guess that needs another set of infographics!

Hope you enjoy the video and the infographics!

shamim_etehadi

Shamim Etehadi and Yazd Cemetery

For over 160 years, the government of Iran has prosecuted religious minorities and jailed political activists, arresting them based on false and baseless  accusations ranging from espionage, treason and spying for the enemy.

The members of such minority groups have suffered tremendously in the hands of the Iranian regime; they were jailed, tortured, executed and murdered for their beliefs and ideals in the hand of the government of Iran. According to Shirin Ebadi’s “Iran Awakening“, the Iranian government has been actively involved in silencing and crushing any group or entity that they identified as enemies of their regime.

Shamim Etehadi, a Baha’i from Yazd, decided to speak against the crimes by the Iranian government; recording the outcome of their acts and documenting the story. However, he was later jailed for speaking against the state.

Lasheen Yusuf

They say Alchemists Do Not Exist

They say alchemists do not exist.

Scientifically, no one was ever able to transform base metals into noble metals, such as silver and gold. But, there was an alchemist in our midst.

WIth the ingredients of happiness, humor and wisdom, he sparks life. Leading with example, the alchemist inspired many apprentices, even mentors, whom have led and inspired others. I am grateful that he has invited me to accompany him on many trips and occasions to programs and events where he shared his insights on life, love and spirituality. Half-jokingly I would call him ‘Guru’ because of that.

Lasheen was an alchemist. He may have not transformed physical items into silver or gold, but he transformed our hearts and helped us to become joyful and happy beings.

I miss Lasheen Mannayath: I miss him for all that he has done for me and the community, and I hope to become the alchemist he once was, and will forever be.

Crusades

Defending the Oppressed – Holy War

Holy War is a controversial topic. The media would portray Holy War as a cause of negative consequences that were stirred strictly out of religious prejudice and fanatical belief. There is no excuse for mankind to lead senseless wars based on fanatical beliefs and prejudice. However, Holy War is a very complex topic; when comparing the past with present ideologies and framework of thought, it is quite illogical. Therefore, to provide us a better understanding of the conditions and framework of the past, it is important that we examine the context of Holy War.

During the period of the birth of religions around the world, Manifestations of God and their believers faced extreme social hardship in the form of false imprisonment, slavery, barbaric aggression, murder and slaughter. Many believers, defying the traditional beliefs of their forefathers and ancestors, faced the swords of their enemies. The believers, respecting the Laws and Essences of the revelation of their Faith, responded only with patience, forgiveness, and steadfastness to the Cause of God. However, as the blood of many believers was being shed, it was up to the Manifestations of God to lead their believers through the difficult circumstances. With the threat of the enemies of the Faith imminent, the Manifestations of God had to respond to this aggressive nature immediately, otherwise they will be exterminated under the force of the evil that surrounded them.

In taking action and defending the Teachings of the Cause of God, the Manifestations of God revealed Holy War. For example, Prophet Muhammad’s Surat At-Tawbah was revealed before the Byzantine-Arab War, considered a Holy War. In my own research of Islamic Studies, the Byzantine Empire pre-meditated an attack by basing their military near the Arabian Peninsula with the aim of capturing the region, present-day Saudi Arabia. To protect the Muslim minority against further bloodshed, Prophet Muhammad revealed the Sura to inspire His people to defend the region against the oppressors and enemies of His Teachings.

Revelations in the Bible, such as Exodus and Leviticus, portray the Holy War between the different civilizations in history; the children of Israel and Pharaohs. The revelations were used by Moses to inspire His people to defend themselves against the oppressors. Moses, in Leviticus 26, reveals:

“And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”

The Bab, founder of the Babi Faith, faced daily persecution and threats by the Persian Empire. Many of them recorded by notable European historians, describing the different methods of torture used against Babi believers. With the mounting pressure of the Persian Empire, and the rising number of believers dying in the hands of their oppressor, the Bab gathered his men and established a fort called the “Fort of Shaykh Tabarsi.” Bab’s intention was strictly to defend His followers against the atrocities and discrimination of the Sultan of Iran and his Vazir. The book “Gate of the Heart” provides a greater in depth perspective on this matter that I would highly recommend reading.

After the execution and martyrdom of the Bab. Baha’u’llah led the followers of the Bab in their time of mourning. After receiving revelation from Gabriel in the Black Pit, the prison in Iran, Baha’u’llah introduced Teachings that aimed in uniting mankind through virtues and moral acts. Truthfulness, kindness, love, justice and humility were the pinnacles of His Teachings. After revealing the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Holy Book of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah revealed Bishárát (Glad-Tidings) –  a Tablet that is composed of fifteen headings, each designated a glad-tiding, where Bahá’u’lláh provides teachings and laws. The Arabic text above, copied from Baha’u’llah’s Glad-Tidings, reveals:

The first Glad-Tidings which the Mother Book hath, in this Most Great Revelation, imparted unto all the peoples of the world is that the law of holy war hath been blotted out from the Book. Glorified be the All-Merciful, the Lord of grace abounding, through Whom the door of heavenly bounty hath been flung open in the face of all that are in heaven and on earth.

The first Bishara from Baha’u’llah is quite significant in the realm of Progressive Revelation – Baha’u’llah has declared an end to the practice of Holy War and replaced it with the specific Guidelines and Teachings aimed towards peace and unity. Given this explicit ordinance, Baha’u’llah has decreed that no form of violence can ever be conducted in the name of His Faith. These moral attributes and values taught in His Writings enforce the notion of peace and unity.

However, Holy War should not be confused with individual self-defense and protection. in Baha’u’llah’s Tablet to Queen Victoria, He states:

O rulers of the earth! Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions. Beware lest ye disregard the counsel of the All-Knowing, the Faithful. Be united, O kings of the earth, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you, and your peoples find rest, if ye be of them that comprehend. Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.

In addition, Abdu’l-Baha, son of Baha’u’llah, encourages people to examine the root cause of war and identify means to eliminate wars of any form from occurring. Abdu’l-Baha states:

“In short, every means that produces war must be checked and the causes that prevent the occurrence of war be advanced–so that physical conflict may become an impossibility. On the other hand, every country must be properly delimited, its exact frontiers marked, its national integrity secured, its permanent independence protected, and its vital interests honoured by the family of nations. These services ought to be rendered by an impartial, international Commission. In this manner all causes of friction and differences will be removed. And in case there should arise some disputes between them, they could arbitrate before the Parliament of Man, the representatives of which should be chosen from among the wisest and most judicious men of all the nations of the world.”

(Abdu’l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp 115-116, cited in Peace, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, August 1985)

Holy War in all its complexity had a significant purpose – to defend the oppressed peoples of forming religions against the violent blows of their oppressors. However, as humanity is progressing, civilizations are learning from the mistakes of the past and leaders are reconciling their differences through non-violent means. Holy War is now no longer needed and therefore removed from this era until eternity.

Wall of Love

Friends from the Heart, Forever

Distance is annihilated and prevents not the close and intimate association of two souls that are closely attached in heart even though they may be in two different countries.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 101)

Since mid-November, I was in the United Arab Emirates working on my residency documents. Due to needed government work, I have to stay in the UAE until some of the necessary papers are completed. While being in UAE and working at weird hours to fit the USA schedule, I was hoping to spend some time reflecting on few things and examine my capacities, life and spirit. It was an ideal situation as I was away from all the clutter, noise and distraction of the Silicon Valley market – fighting for innovation, competitive atmosphere, and a limited scope of activity based on mainstream interests. In the mist of all the musing, I thought of a wonderful idea: why not visit my friends in Europe while I’m on this side of the Atlantic Ocean? That idea has lit a powerful engine in my mind, and my blood was rushing so quickly in my body. I didn’t hesitate to reach out to my dear friends immediately and share the news!

I had very little expectation, and packed very light to make my journey as easy as possible. The goal, as stated before, was simply to see my friends. My planned route of travel were London, to Paris, to Munich and finally Kehl; a city that borders France and hugs Straßburg with the famous La Passerelle Mirmam.

On December 23rd, I sat on the plane leaving from Dubai to London. It was a surreal journey, and I was slightly nervous: It has been a while since I’ve last seen my friends, and most of my interactions with them have been through the Internet. I was not sure for a second whether this was a good idea. I landed in Heathrow, went through the passport check, and my first encounter of seeing my friend has completely changed my mind.

It was only during the summer that I have studied about the definition of true friendship. True friendship encompasses the qualities that help one grow and prosper, both spiritually and physically, through mutual support, encouragement and channeling hope, energy and inspiration to one another. Those qualities were found in the heart of those friends who have hosted my during my short trip to Europe. Those are the friends that made Europe feel like home. And every departure from their region or home felt like being homesick. Homesick not because I miss UAE, or USA, but homesick because I will truly miss those beautiful friends.

Despite the pouring rain of London, the lousy restaurant service and train service in France, and the ridiculous Winterpause of German stores – none of them have changed my mind of the countries and cities I’ve visited. For me, the cities and towns that I’ve visited carry the memory of the compassion, love, kindness, and generosity of my hosts and friends.

To the wonderful hosts, friends and family that have made my Winter journey and reflection beautiful and illuminating:

Thank you so much, and I love you all dearly.

95-Youth_Conferences

95 Youth Conferences Projects

The Baha’i world received a great news earlier this year; there will be 95 Youth Conferences around the world! The youth in different cities and nations around the world are excited and thrilled to hear this news. The conferences revolve around the messages from the Universal House of Justice, the supreme administrative body for the believers of the Baha’i Faith, on how to best utilize core activities to promote the well-being and growth of human civilization.

The Universal House of Justice expresses the purpose of the conferences as an opportunity to make a contribution to humanity; stating:

To every generation of young believers comes an opportunity to make a contribution to the fortunes of humanity, unique to their time of life. For the present generation, the moment has come to reflect, to commit, to steel themselves for a life of service from which blessing will flow in abundance.

With the dates of the 95 Youth Conferences being announced, and website properties in the realm of social media being managed by a number of volunteers around the world, projects are starting to bloom to build the momentum (and sustain the momentum) of the goals and plans of the 95 Youth Conferences.

The items below are links to notable projects, and social media pages, relevant to 95 Youth Conferences:

Social Media Pages

95 Youth Conference Facebook Page

95 Youth Conference Facebook Group

95 Youth Conference Twitter Page

Projects

JY+Us (Juice)


If there are more projects or social media pages that you are aware of, drop a comment or let me know at @abehjat

M31-Universe-by-NASA

The Forum – Nature and Universal Law

Introduction

Every other week, I hold a gathering in my house called “The Forum.” The purpose of my gathering is to engage in dialog and consultation on developing the framework of action with the goal of promoting the betterment of mankind.

The gathering revolves around the Abdu’l-Baha’s “Some Answered Questions” because I felt the topics were rich with meaning, approached the matter with logic, and conveyed the message in the spirit of learning.

Even though this may seem like a deepening session, the gathering is open to all to gain a better understanding on the Teachings of the Baha’i Faith, and underlining the universal purpose that humanity has in this world.

Nature and Universal Law

To understand the basic principles of existence, Abdu’l-Baha explains what natures consists of, and how nature is governed by conditions that allows it to grow, expand and live. In Some Answered Questions, Abdu’l-Baha states:

“Nature is that condition, that reality, which in appearance consists in life and death, or, in other words, in the composition and decomposition of all things. This Nature is subjected to an absolute organization, to determined laws, to a complete order and a finished design, from which it will never depart—to such a degree, indeed, that if you look carefully and with keen sight, from the smallest invisible atom up to such large bodies of the world of existence as the globe of the sun or the other great stars and luminous spheres, whether you regard their arrangement, their composition, their form or their movement, you will find that all are in the highest degree of organization and are under one law from which they will never depart.”

Abdu’l-Baha’s definition of nature, and the things the nature is influenced by, resonates very well with a concept in the field of Physics regarding string theory; a sub-quark element that is responsible for all the forces that a mass is influenced by (weak, strong, and electromagnetic). Edward Whitten, a renowned Theoretical Physicist at Princeton University, can the following statement about superstring theory, which is a derivative of string theory:

“Superstring theories provide a framework in which the force of gravity may be united with the other three forces in nature: the weak, electromagnetic and strong forces. Recent progress has shown that the most promising superstring theories follow from a single theory. For the last generation, physicists have studied five string theories and one close cousin. Recently it has become clear that these five or six theories are different limiting cases of one theory which, though still scarcely understood, is the candidate for superunification of the forces of nature.”

Humanity is a part of Nature; however, what distinguishes humans from other bodies, organisms and elements on the earth is the fact that humans are intelligent beings that are able to promote the progress of their community and society; break the barriers of knowledge through innovation, experience and discovery. Abdu’l-Baha explains further:

“But when you look at Nature itself, you see that it has no intelligence, no will. For instance, the nature of fire is to burn; it burns without will or intelligence. The nature of water is fluidity; it flows without will or intelligence. The nature of the sun is radiance; it shines without will or intelligence. The nature of vapor is to ascend; it ascends without will or intelligence. Thus it is clear that the natural movements of all things are compelled; there are no voluntary movements except those of animals and, above all, those of man. Man is able to resist and to oppose Nature because he discovers the constitution of things, and through this he commands the forces of Nature; all the inventions he has made are due to his discovery of the constitution of things. For example, he invented the telegraph, which is the means of communication between the East and the West. It is evident, then, that man rules over Nature.”

Abdu’l-Baha’s proof of intelligence is also agreed upon not only by scientists, but also laureates, other religious bodies, and scientists. Reflecting on two short quotes that relay such understanding:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

- F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of The Great Gatsby)

“The senses, they say, are great. Greater than the senses is the mind, greater than the mind is intelligence but greater than the intelligence is He.”

- Bhagavad Gita (Sacred Hindu Scripture)

It is clear and evident that humanity has reigned over Nature since the start of time. However, the greater question that arises is what intelligence developed Nature? For anything that has been created, whether an atom or a mountain, an intelligent source is needed. In the realm of science, we utilize the basis that it is through chance and chaos that such a wonder was achieved. Yet, even numbers show elegance and uniformity that it cannot merely be chance, but a very well calibrated design, a design that enables us, and Nature, to live and foster. Abdu’l-Baha sheds light on this matter:

“Now, when you behold in existence such organizations, arrangements and laws, can you say that all these are the effect of Nature, though Nature has neither intelligence nor perception? If not, it becomes evident that this Nature, which has neither perception nor intelligence, is in the grasp of Almighty God, Who is the Ruler of the world of Nature; whatever He wishes, He causes Nature to manifest.
One of the things which has appeared in the world of existence, and which is one of the requirements of Nature, is human life. Considered from this point of view man is the branch; nature is the root. Then can the will and the intelligence, and the perfections which exist in the branch, be absent in the root? It is said that Nature in its own essence is in the grasp of the power of God, Who is the Eternal Almighty One: He holds Nature within accurate regulations and laws, and rules over it.”

In addition to the clear and logical message presented here by Abdu’l-Baha, I decided to venture online and find out if any other figures and entities from the past have shed light on this idea. And it was amazing for me to see the universal agreement, spoken in different tones and languages, to describe what Abdu’l-Baha mentioned about what governs Nature, and of the essence of God.

To clarify, God is not merely a man in the sky, nor an entity to which we can comprehend and grasp. It is best to consider it as an Intelligent being that is beyond our realm of comprehension, yet present. A better example of this is the value and concept of infinity, which is beyond the realm of comprehension in our mind. However, it provides the answer to missing links and questions in Mathematics, especially in mathematical series.

Among some of the individuals who have discussed this matter include Max Planck, where he shares a fundamental message in the realm of Quantum Mechanics:

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Derived from the lecture, ‘Das Wesen der Materie’ [The Essence/Nature/Character of Matter], Florence, Italy (1944). Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797.

Previous religious Holy Writings, from Quran and Bhagavad Gita, gave their interpretation of Intelligence and essence of God:

It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when ye knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks.

- The Quran, Surat Al Nahl (The Bee), verse 78

When a man puts away all the desires of his mind, O Partha (Arjuna), and when his spirit is content in itself, then he is called stable in intelligence.

- Bhagavad Gita (Sacred Hindu Scripture)

And finally, Isaac Newton, in the Untitled Treatise on Revelation, under “Rules for interpreting the words and language in Scripture”, which was one of Newton’s writings and research dedicated to understanding and how to correctly interpret the Writings of Bible, states in Rule 9:

“It is the perfection of God’s works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity. He is the God of order and not of confusion. And therefore as they would understand the frame of the world must endeavor to reduce their knowledge to all possible simplicity, so must it be in seeking to understand these visions.”

Baha'is in Ismailia, Egypt 1926

“If I were a Baha’i”

Egypt is a wonderful country. Its people are hospitable, rich in history and are blessed with many wonderful talents, laureates, and notable figures that have brought a positive impact to the world.

Unfortunately, in the past few years it has faced many difficulties. Egypt went through a difficult period of history where injustice, prejudice, war, intolerance and poverty were prevalent. Among those suffering from such calamities are the Baha’is in Egypt. An example includes how Baha’is were not provided with the Egyptian national ID because of their Faith. The IDs are similar to the Social Security system in the United States, which is essential for its citizens to register their children to go to schools, getting medication, and having access to government benefits.

There has been progress in Egypt for the Baha’is; however, it marks a small step to the many steps needed to bring forth true justice. Recently, news circulated that Egypt’s Minister of Education publicly announced that the Baha’is will not have access to education in Egypt. In addition to Baha’is, members of the Coptic community are fleeing the violence, and women are facing the challenge of defending themselves from being sexually abused due to lack of security. Egypt has to strive to seek justice; a justice that is all-encompassing.

What lead me to write about the Baha’is in Egypt? My father forwarded me an email that caught my attention, and I decided to share its content here. To give a brief background, a prominent Egyptian intellectual and author, Dr. Tarek Heggy published an article in Arabic that was first noted to be posted in “Civic Egypt” website, and titled “If I Were A Baha’i”. The article covers the tribulations the Baha’is faced; placing himself in the shoes of those who face such hardship and express their wishes. The following is the English translation of the article I linked above, and various translations are available online, too:

If I were Bahá’í: I would have brought to the attention of all the great personalities and the intellectuals of the world the respect and regard with which their peers in Egypt received ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Son of Bahá’u’lláh) during His visit to this country in the early 20th. Century, and with what filth and disregard today’s pretentious personalities and false intellectuals of Egypt smear the fair name of Bahá’í and the Bahá’ís.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the concourse of Justice in the world on the subject of the Al-Azhar Establishment and say to its honourable Ulamá: How could you decide today that Bahá’í is not a religion when the Superior Shar’ia Tribunal of Beba/Souhag ruled in 1925 that “Bahá’í is an independent religion.”

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the concourse of Justice in the world on the subject of the Al-Azhar Establishment which with all the mosques, mesdjids and kettab schools at their disposal in Egypt, have found it necessary to disown the Bahá’í Community of their main Centre building to use it for a Qur’ánic school.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the concourse of Justice in the world on the subject of the imprisonment of some 92 Bahá’ís–men and women–aged between 2 and 80 years. They were arrested between midnight and dawn from all over Egypt and transferred to jail in Tanta; then falsely accused of treason, misconduct and espionage, far and wide in the media, for no other reason than because they are Bahá’í.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the concourse of Justice in the world on the frequent arrest of Bahá’ís, men and women, their incarceration in jail for days, weeks or months for interrogation. The courts have never found them guilty of neither crime nor fault, but they were Bahá’í.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the concourse of Art in the west and in the east, to the case of one of the greatest and most admired artists of Egypt, Hussein Bikar, who was arrested in his home and driven to jail with other renowned Bahá’ís for days of interrogation regarding his and their Bahá’í Faith.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the concourse of Art in the west and in the east, and would say to them: Hussein Bikar, one of the greatest and most admired Artists of Egypt had no Identity card at his death at almost 90 years of age. The Egyptian Authorities refused to issue one with “Bahá’í” mentioned in the space for religion.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the world Organizations of Law and Justice and of Human Rights, government and non-government alike, and said to them: imagine that in Egypt of the 21st. Century, individual Identity Cards have to include the binding indication of the religion of the individual?

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the world Organizations of Law and Justice and of Human Rights, government and non-government alike, and said to them: imagine that in Egypt of the 21st. Century, individual Identity Cards must include the binding indication of one of only three religions notwithstanding the individual’s wish or faith?

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the world Organizations of Law and Justice and of Human Rights, government and non-government alike, and said to them: in Egypt of the 21st. Century, the sons and daughters of Bahá’ís are issued individual Identity Cards with a dash (–) for religion while their parents are refused identity cards: WHY? Because the Egyptian State does not recognize Bahá’í marriage! O people of the world: come and take stock of administrative excellence!

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness all the Ministers of Education of the world and informed them that: the Minister of Education of Egypt has declared that he will refuse admittance of children–yes children of Bahá’ís to the government schools because the children are Bahá’í!

If I were Bahá’í: I would have informed the world that the new Egyptian Constitution contains the necessary elements for the elimination of the Bahá’í minority in Egypt.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have informed the world that burning the homes of Bahá’ís takes place with impunity in Egypt.

If I were Bahá’í: I would have taken for witness the world Organizations of Mass Media, of Law and Justice and of Human Rights, government and non-government alike, and informed them that in Egypt, inciting to kill Bahá’ís, through TV and speeches is normal and is done with impunity!

In spite of all this:

If I were Bahá’í: I would have said to those in authority in Egypt: I am loyal to my country, I love my country, I strive for the success and progress of my country and I consider the children of my neighbors as my children without consideration of religion or creed. How wonderful would Egypt be were you, who are in authority, to follow in this same path.

economics

The Elegant System: Neither Capitalism or Communism

Whether communism, or capitalism, both systems are flawed and unsuitable for this time and age. It is time for a new Keynes, Marshall and Adam Smith influential economist to develop a new, global model.

Observations

There are three solid observations:

  1. No human is perfect, thus immoral and irrational matters occur.
  2. Neither system will work at all given the foundation of both systems, which assumes humans are rational and morally sound.
  3. Both systems assume the outside world is in a constant state that we can assume to be ideal, and that the foreign relations are stable. Reality is that the world is more random. Like a nth sided dice, where “n” is the different factors that affect the world beyond borders: Nature, education, wealth, resources, politics…etc

Despite the popular idea in the West to decentralize all institutions, Government has an important role to play in the development of economic standards of a nation. Government is needed for any case, regardless of any system. But I’ll leave that to some PoliSci genius to identify a new form of administration that breaks away from the Greek Senate system that is old and outdated, or the British Parliamentary system, which is like a massive party rather than a governing body.

Given such observations, it is evident proves that neither system is valid for this time and age given the infrastructure and foundation present. A better model requires to be devised the focuses on empowering and encouraging people to act morally and rationally; leading to the development of economic standard and transforming society to practice trade and economics effectively and efficiently. So far, we have a system that gives people negative points (black points in driver’s license, three-strike law, criminal records…etc). Therefore, the question holds, why not create a reward system?

My opinion is to develop a new economic model that encompasses a global perspective on things, while standing on the foundation of resolving economic problems through moral initiatives and endeavors.

International Trade in Classical Models vs. Reality

Capitalism and Communist Economics express matters in a microeconomic scale limited to a single nation. And when International Trade is integrated to this matter, it focuses strictly on scenarios and events that occur at the port of the local nation of which the microeconomic principles are in play. Based on such assumption, the model limits the transaction to a system that extends as far as the borders of the nation, and anything beyond that border is considered “ideal” or “in constant state”.

Therefore, in an ideal scenario, Capitalist nations should work strictly in promoting their own interest and the Communist nation follow the same suit, too. These measures/ideologies are introduced in the form of tariffs, quotas, trade barriers, or even embargos (extreme case).

In the realm of Economics, Noble Prize winners Heckscher and Ohlin introduced Heckscher-Ohlin Theory, which explains how two countries can get greater gains from trading with each other if they have different resources. This model is independent of Communism/Capitalistic model. Even though this model only focuses on resources, it is a good step forward to proving the foundation of how unity in trade is the key to progress. In 2000’s, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz paved way to the power and benefit of globalization, and breaking the barriers of Capitalism and Communism by supporting more freedom in trade, more transparency, and great equivalency (this is like a mix of capitalism and communism if you think about it).

Anyhow, utilizing the latest information we gained from the new wave of Economics, and merging the growing field of Behavioral Economics, I think we are capable of providing a solution.

Role of Government

In Economics, the government’s duty is to ensure fair play of businesses in the field. Their task is to provide protection, guidance, and assistance when in need. Small businesses strive through Small Business Incentives provided by the government to grow and develop, while corporations have their rights protected by the legal clause given by government (such as patents). And in return, of course, government needs income through taxes and what not to maintain such complex legal and judicial system. But you already know this ;)

As for government controlling business, I can think of three ways:

1) Protection Against Monopoly: The traditional biological rule is survival of the fittest, and so the weakest company will die off in the cut throat market. I don’t support this model of thinking, but this is the current environment. Let’s assume the battle goes on until one company survives. Based on microeconomic principle, a monopolist can abuse its position to get the most profit from individuals. Not to mention, making it extremely difficult for new businesses to arise. And so far, this isn’t limited to Monopoly, but we can also say Oligopolies and Duopolies are as bad, too. Government limits such practice to protect people from such abuse.

2) Free rider problem: In the context of businesses, suppose there is a street, on which 25 people live, and which suffers from a litter problem. A weekly street-cleaning service would cost $2,500 annually. Suppose that each person is able and willing to pay $100 or more for the service. However, it is possible that some people on the street will refuse to pay, anticipating that the service will be undertaken regardless. It is possible that if enough people refuse to pay, the service will not be hired; an example of market failure. This is where the government has to step in and mitigate this problem, since again, people are extremely irrational.

3) Promoting National Interest: Sometimes, government control a business to push their own agenda, and this is visible in the field of agriculture and technology. For example, military/defense industry receives far greater funding than any other industry due to US government’s interest. As in terms of trade, the United States places trade restrictions on foreign fruits and goods not only because of environmental problem, but also to eliminate the competition of food within the United States and promote farming in the USA (otherwise, who the hell would farm. It’s very expensive to farm, which explains the need for subsidy). However, if utilized properly, this method can assist the government to focus on matters that are in great need of attention, such as encouraging medical research, developing new industries, transforming older methodologies and leading a progressive civilization.

Whatever it may be, In the end, I just wish to see myself going forward with innovative ideas and not feel afraid to let go of old models if it is deemed broken. And I feel that we are there, and we can all accomplish great things.

Looking forward to your insight and comments, and feel free to share your thoughts, too.

clouds-in-sky

Simple Science Tricks – Clouds in a Bottle

Clouds are beautiful! You look up to the sky and you see them in different shapes and sizes. What’s even more amazing is that they have different names for the different shapes; like CirrusNimbostratus, and Cumulus. Though, the biggest question we had when we all saw those beautiful clouds (or sometimes sad clouds) is how are they made?

A cloud is a large collection of water droplets, very tiny ones, or ice crystals. Since the droplets are super small and tiny, they can float up in the air.

Actually, all air contains water to be practice. However, when we are near the ground level, or sea level, water is usually in the form of water vapor, which is invisible to us because of the distribution of water molecule in the space provided (imagine a pea in a football stadium and you are seeing the stadium from a helicopter).

When warm air rises, it expands and cools due to changes in the atmosphere itself. When the water vapor gets cold, the water molecules come together slightly closer and form tiny droplets; just like how we cuddle with someone when we get cold ourselves. This process is called condensation, when air molecules condense due to cold and slowly form into a liquid. When billions of these droplets come together, yet they are spaced not too far from each other, they become a visible cloud.

How does condensation work?

Condensation forms when water changes from a vapor (or gas) to a liquid. Consider the water molecules as people. For people to go around, hang out and meet with friends, they need energy. In the presence of heat, there is energy for things to happen (not extreme heat, of course).

People cannot stand extreme heat; otherwise, this place would have been packed!

So water molecules party it up and rock out everywhere in the air because of decent heat. However, as the water is cooled and there is less heat energy for the individual molecules and particles to move around, it then condenses. Just like cuddling. Therefore, condensation happens because of change in temperature.

How do clouds float?

Clouds are heavy. The water in a cloud can have a mass of several million tons. So, how do they float?

Cloud droplets are also about 1000 times heavier than evaporated (gas) water, so they are much heavier than air. However, they do not fall, but stay in the air, because there is warm air all round the heavier water droplets. You can imagine the warm air being bullies pushing the water to be together into a droplet.

When water changes from gas to droplets, this makes heat. Because the droplets are very small, they “stick” to the warm air. And thus, they float.

The Experiment

The Summary

Make some clouds in a bottle.

What you need:

  • Tea spoon
  • A 2-Liter bottle and a cap
  • Matches/Fire
  • Piece of Newspaper

Steps:

What’s going on?

As the video mentioned, the increase in pressure and decrease in pressure is increasing the temperature (remember how hot it is when using a bicycle pump?). This phenomena is better explained by this glorious formula, ideal Gas Law:

PV = nRT

No, we don't measure gas with those moles. Nor the moles on your body!

Where the volume (V) is constant because your gas is in the bottle of volume 2 liters, and there is a constant amount of gas (n) measured in moles, R is the ideal, or universal, gas constant, equal to the product of Boltzmann’s constant and Avogadro’s constant. And finally, T is temperature. As pressure changes often to higher pressure on average, it increases the change in temperature, leading to higher temperature (since the original temperature is constant).

Given the increase in temperature, change in pressure, and presence of water molecules in the bottle, clouds are formed satisfying the conditions and explanations mentioned above!

mythbusted

Dispelling the Myth: Firearm is more dangerous than Drunk Driving

After seeing all this debate about gun control and comparing it to drunk driving, I decided to find the facts out for myself. If there is a strong principle that I advocate whole-heartedly, it is this:

Independent investigation of Truth

And so, I set out to investigate the numbers on my own using the sources available to me by the Department of Justice and Center for Disease Control.

Result

More people die or get injured by Firearms annually than drunk driving. According the the Bureau of Justice statistics for period of 2005-2010, the average annual death/injury/terrorization by firearm is 155,250 victims (Source: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/vvcs9310.pdf – Page 7, Table 9)

According to Center for Disease Control, the 2010 statistics alone for drunk driving lead to death of 10,228 in 2010 alone (source: http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/Impaired_Driving/data.html)

For both cases, further control and regulation reduced deaths in each scenario.

Myth: Busted

Extra: Mental Health and Gun Violence

Data about Mental Health vs. Non-Mental Health that committed crime:

According to the Bureau of Justice, nearly 1 in 5 violent crimes are done by someone considered mentally unstable (whether psychological, drug based, or alcohol). Based on 2006 research, they found:

“Female inmates had higher rates of mental health problems than male inmates—in state prisons, 73 percent of females and 55 percent of males; in federal prisons, 61 percent of females and 44 percent of males; and in local jails, 75 percent of females and 63 percent of males.”

The cause behind such mental problems are:

“When compared with other inmates and probationers, the mentally ill inmates and probationers reported higher rates of prior physical and sexual abuse and higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse by a parent or guardian while they were growing up. Among mentally ill state prisoners, nearly a third of men and three-quarters of the women said they had been physically or sexually abused in the past. More than 40 percent of the mentally ill inmates said their parents had abused alcohol or drugs. More than half said a parent, brother or sister had also been in prison or jail.”

And finally, to dispel the firearm matter when it comes to mental health:

“Use of a weapon did not vary by mental health status

Convicted violent offenders who had a mental health problem were as likely as those without to have used a weapon during the offense (table 9). An estimated 37% of both State prisoners who had a mental problem and those without said they had used a weapon during the offense. By specific type of weapon, among convicted violent offenders in State prisons who had a mental health problem, slightly less than a quarter (24%) had used a firearm, while a tenth (10%) had used a knife or sharp object.”

Source: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf

crime-scene-tape

Gun Control Economics

Today, twenty children and six adults were killed in a shooting in Newton, Connecticut [BBC Link]. Among the killed was the killer, who took away his life after committing his massacre. In 2012 alone, there has been four mass shootings. Among them include the shooting in a mall in Oregon, in a movie theater in Colorado and a Sikh temple in Colorado. Despite the numbers of death caused by guns, there are few who are adamant to bring the gun control issue up.

Before I resume, I would like to state that I am completely against guns, as I find its purpose is to kill. A purpose that lacks any moral and logical foundation, and is poison to our community and society. A human invention that has led to the death of people all across the world.

Gun Control – The Challenge

As mentioned before, there are individuals in our society who are adamant and unwilling to let go of certain opinions that promote and endorse the distribution of weapons to society under the banner of defense and freedom. Whenever the issue of Gun Control arises, those who advocate for it face many challenges. Among such challenges include: Lobby groups such as the NRA, the 18th Century Amendment in the United States Constitution, and lack of education and awareness by the public. Based on those factors, utilization of a legal policy to minimize gun usage, or implement gun control, through law alone is insufficient. Therefore, a different method should be utilized to address this matter.

Economics of Gun Control

Given the delicate situation, the medium I suggest to mitigate gun related crimes is through economic penalization and economic reward. How would it work? Let’s start with the fist of law:

Economic Penalty

At every crime scene, it is easy to determine the weapon and bullet used that inflicted injury or death of a person. With every casualty, whether death or injury, the institutions supplying such weapons and bullets will be penalized significantly. A good example can be as follows:

27 people died in this incident, with over 100 bullets were shot during the killing spree. For each casualty, it’s a $500,000 per body and for each bullet it is $1000/each bullet fired. The total would be $13.5 Million for deaths alone, and over $100,000 for just bullets alone.

The disadvantage of such process that I’m sure will arise in Congress is the value of life. Can life be really worth $500,000? How do we determine the potential capacity lost? It is a very sensitive subject, but it requires to be addressed.

The proceeds of such financial penalty will be devoted for the families who have lost their loved ones, the medical attention they need, and for the emergency team that have devoted their time and efforts to bring calm and peace to their community.

The increase in the cost will provide a pinch to the gun suppliers and producers. Promoting for the push for stricter rules to be implemented to minimize losses and finding an optimum point where cost and benefit balances (unfortunately, I don’t think gun organization view humans as beings but rather as an economic resource to which they wish to sell guns to).

Economic Benefit

The benefits that will be provided for a company whose weapons are not found in crime scenes, or have minimized the number of their weapons in the market, is getting better access to gun bids for government defense contracts, gaining a better stature in the public light. That’s about it. No monetary benefit or discount. The goal is to enstill a better sense of community and human nature in those institutions to view each casualty as a loss for the community, and the world.

This may be need to be revised, but it is a proposal I would like the world to know of, and I hope it is for the best.

In the meantime, I would like to share this prayer for the children who have passed away today in the world:

“That beloved child addresseth thee from the hidden world: ‘O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world—a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.’”

-‘Abdu’l-Baha