Category Archives: Science

The Real Capital

This article by Thomas Friedman caught my eye. This article is not about Pakistan. Pakistan is not mentioned even once in the article. This is not about South Asia, or militant Islam, or the war on terror. It is about none of the ideological war between the religious right wing ideologies and the secular ideals that we espouse at PTH.

 A cursory glance and we realize why United States is the biggest economic and scientific power in the world. Let me say that I have selective admiration of the United States. I am critical of United States’ opportunistic foreign policies. I however realize that world has seen an enormous scientific and economic development under the vastly expanding global democratic capitalistic society that is led by the United States. We are living in the most fruitful scientific evolutionary times in all of the human history where the scope of technology is increasing at an exponential rate in a matter of decades. We are also living in one of the wealthiest times of human history, where the world GDP per capita almost tripled between 1900 and the year 2000. To give you some comparison, the yearly growth rate of GDP per single person was close to zero up to the year 1700 from the earliest human times.

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Filed under China, Democracy, India, Science, USA

Global Water Trends Afloat Pakistan’s Water Crisis

By Halima Khan

Water is necessary for human survival and development while water is a scarce good. Conclusively lack of water hinders development and also dignified life. This assessment is obvious from global trends, as well as from Pakistan’s national and local struggles for better access to water.

 According to figures available by the United Nations and other international organizations, 1.1bn people are devoid of sufficient access to water, and 2.4bn people have to live with no sufficient sanitation. In keeping to current trends the projection is that about 3bn people of a population of 8.5bn will experience water shortage by 2025. 83% of them will belong to developing countries, more often than not in rural areas where even today now and then only 20% of the population have contact with sufficient water supply. This definite lack of water is contrasting to the academic conclusion that there is enough ground water in all regions of the world to certify plenty of water supplies for all people. Only 6% of global freshwater is used by households, while 20% is utilized industry and another 70% by agriculture. The finale drawn from these framework conditions is that water shortage and the unequal distribution of water are global problems rather than regional problems that need international solutions.

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Filed under Pakistan, Science

Nisar Teri Gallion Pay Ai Watan

(Posted by YLH)

A few weeks ago an ignorant little Mullah from the Jamaat-e-Islami claimed that Dr. Salam’s achievement in science was nothing compared to many other great scientists of Pakistan and that Salam got the Nobel Prize because he was a “Jewish agent”.  I suppose one of these “great scientists” he was referring to was the idiot who read his paper on “how to harness the power of genies for electricity production” at Zia’s famous “Science Conference” in International Islamic University in the 1980s.   Well this article by Kunwar Idris in Dawn shows just how amazing a scientist and how  great a patriot Dr. Salam was- especially in comparion to the crooks, cranks and madmen who have now become- to use Justice Kiyani’s apt phrase-  the chachas and mamas of Pakistan:

Abdus Salam’s 15th death anniversary went unnoticed recently. The 25th death anniversary of Waheed Murad that fell on the same day was celebrated with fanfare. They say nations which do not honour their great men cease to produce them.

Pakistan, for sure, has produced no scientist of Salam’s stature nor perhaps an actor of Waheed’s popularity. Whether it is serious research or playful acting, the national scene remains barren. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, Physics, Science

Islam’s Darwin Problem

By Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe

Three weeks ago, with much fanfare, a team of scientists unveiled the fossil skeleton of Ardi, a 4-foot-tall female primate who lived and died 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. According to her discoverers, Ardi – short for Ardipithecus ramidus, her species – is our oldest known ancestor. She predated Lucy, the fossilized Australopithecus afarensis that previously had claimed the title, by 1.2 million years. The papers announcing the find described a transitional specimen, with the long arms and short legs of an ape and strong, grasping big toes suited to life in the trees, but also a pelvis whose shape allowed her to walk upright on the ground below. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Science

The Bible of Militant Atheism

by Aasem Bakhshi

nullContrary to the mainstream religious belief, incredulity and skepticism regarding the ultimate nature of truth, existence of God and eschatological claims of scripture is not an entirely modern phenomenon. In his famous thought experiment Hayy Ibn Yaqzan, Ibn Tufayl the famous Muslim philosopher of 12th century Spain, aesthetically described discovery of God as the “joy without lapse, unending bliss, infinite rapture and delight” and inability to find Him as “infinite torture”. The curious and always speculative protagonist of the fable remains incessantly engaged between cosmological antinomies such as those put forward by contests between classical Greek eternalism and scriptural creationism; or the ones related to human origins such as spontaneous generation (understandably so, considering the scientific milieu of 12th century) or simple creationism as proposed by orthodox religion. Continue reading

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Filed under Books, Philosophy, Religion, Science

10 Lessons From Einstein

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists to ever live. Einstein’s physics theories are still confounding scientists more than half a century after his death. In addition to his grand technical accomplishments, the kindly German doctor was also a philosopher and ethicist of the highest order. More than simply a scientist, Einstein’s legacy provides insight into a number of fields. Here are the ten lessons every student can learn from Albert Einstein, pulled directly from his quotes and sayings.
1. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”: Without the ability to dream or imagine Einstein never would have been remembered as a famous scientist. In fact Einstein even used imagination as a scientific tool by developing theories through thought experiments conducted entirely in the mind.
2. “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”: Not all Einstein’s breakthroughs came easily and despite his renowned intellect, he often claimed deficiencies as a mathematician. Though many claim he failed math as kid, this endearing story is not true.
3. “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”: Einstein understood the value of instinct and intuition when tackling problems. While knowledge and information are necessary, trusting your first reaction is often best.
4. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”: Falling flat on ones face is an essential part of the human experience. Failure allows time and hindsight to explore mistakes and review other courses of action.
5. “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”: Learning is a lifelong process that frequently relies more on interests and passions then official curricula. Students that follow their interests end up successful and fulfilled.
6. “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”: Despite having contributed heavily to the atomic bomb, Einstein deplored its use and lobbied American presidents to limit the weapons’ proliferation.
7. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”: Finding solutions means finding different routes of failure. Success can only be achieved with focused effort and well thought out solutions.
8. “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”: Questions are good. They shape all academic disciplines and lead to more knowledge. Unfortunately, asking questions is an easy habit to break. Einstein constantly reminded people to indulge their curiosity.
9. “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”: For all his genius and success, Einstein was aware he would never discover all the answers. This humility and down to earth sensibility has made Einstein an icon of human thought for generations.
10. “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”: This sign hung in Einstein’s Princeton University office as a reminder of the truly important things in life: love and happiness.

This piece was sent to PTH for wider readership. It is informative and brings back the simple lessons from the otherwise magnificent genius of Einstein. RR

Albert Einstein was one of the greatest scientists to ever live. Einstein’s physics theories are still confounding scientists more than half a century after his death. In addition to his grand technical accomplishments, the kindly German doctor was also a philosopher and ethicist of the highest order. More than simply a scientist, Einstein’s legacy provides insight into a number of fields. Here are the ten lessons every student can learn from Albert Einstein, pulled directly from his quotes and sayings. Continue reading

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Filed under Science

Happy 200th Mr. Darwin: Darwin’s World

Charles Robert Darwin turns 200 today.    He stands as one of those pivotal figures in the course of human consciousness who changed the course of the world.   This article, first published in Dawn, is an overview of the life and times of one of the greatest scientific observers in history.  We at PakTeaHouse celebrate all human endeavor especially that which seeks to propel humanity forward and for me personally evolution means enlightenment and liberation from dogma, orthodoxy and witchdoctorism that often masquerades as something holy in the good name of faith.  I, for one, concur with the more rational and reasonable of the believers who maintain that religion – especially Islam- is completely at peace with the idea of evolution.  – Yasser Latif Hamdani Continue reading

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Filed under Science