Google Simply Katherine, a Christian on campus: March 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Buzzword: Paradigm Shift

paradigm shift
For those who are not familiar with scientific paradigm, according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, a paradigm is "a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated". In other words, it's a set of experiments that is to be copied to define a particular science.

So I created this conjecture in the slideshow based on two different models of progress. The first part of the conjecture is actually based on the influential Kuhn's paradigm shift model ("The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962). The latter is based on Dr. Kenneth R. Diller, Sc.D, P.E.'s lecture on "The Harmony of Science and the Bible" at the University of Texas in Austin.

Scroll down to see slideshow!
NOTE: To replay, do not click the "play" button on the slide. 
Click on the caption then use the "play" button at the bottom control panel. 
The captions explain the development of the slides.



Such phenomenon can be exemplified in the field of astronomy. In the beginning, various myths emerged in the ancient cultures. The Chinese believed that the earth was flat; so did the pre-Socratic Greeks. The early Egyptians thought the earth was a flat disk floating in the ocean. These thoughts could be contained by a paradigm, a notion, that the earth was flat. However, some ancient philosophers began to develop ideas of the spherical earth. Actually the Bible also mentions "the circle of the earth" in the Book of Isaiah (Isa. 40:22, see also Isa. 44:24-28; Gen. 1:10,16-18; Psa. 136:7-9; Prov. 8:27; Luke 4:5.) Then came Christopher Columbus who sailed 'round the earth, giving a paradigm shift, a new perspective of discovery, of the roundness of the earth. 

It doesn't stop there. When the Hubble telescope was launched to observe and take spectacular pictures of the universe out there, another paradigm shift occurred, giving scientists a new set of questions to ask, a new set of parameters of interpretation, and so forth.

The scientific pursuit is continually evolving and revolutionizing but though many are still in denial, it seems that scientific progress, which is affecting social progress, has a destination. The findings in various fields of study seem to converge into one body of the ultimate truth. This ultimate truth, I believe, parallels to, if not is, the meaning of our existence.  


Monday, March 28, 2011

Conversations with Mrs. L - An Introduction

orange orchard
These conversations are landmarks in my life. About a year ago, I lived in the West Coast, in a neighborhood canopied by lush orange trees and avocado trees. The place used to be an orchard. So this street that I lived on ended in a cul-de-sac. Every now and then, I would take a walk, talking on the phone; and I would end up at the cul-de-sac so I had to turn around and continue walking. As I was walking back, I would always pass this cute, gated house on my right. You could totally see the tiny front yard behind the gates, decorated with trimmed shrubberies. Next to it was the driveway, with the garage door opened practically everyday during the day. The atmosphere was so welcoming but at the same time, I was somewhat hesitant to visit and introduce myself to this neighbor of mine (she had been the longest occupant of that neighborhood) because I had never met a person whose age was four times older than mine.

Actually this neighbor of mine knew my maternal grandmother from before but she didn't know that I lived in her neighborhood. Long story short, when I saw her outside her house one day, straightening another neighbor's garbage bin so that the garbage truck could pick it up more easily, I decided to say hi and told her that I was so-and-so's granddaughter. She was very happy to see me... 

(to be continued, click here for Meeting Mrs. L

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Infinity within Finite Beings

Do you see that second hand of the clock jumps for every second?


On one side, you can say that our lifetime is consisted of discrete moments. You can distinctly mark events; for instance, at the first second you step out from your apartment door and at the second second you close the door behind you. So if you're looking at the second hand of an old-fashioned clock, you see that hand ticks forward, it jumps to the next second.

Obviously, you can count seconds. They are finite discrete numbers. However, this notion becomes more complex when we talk about existence. The jump from one second to another implies that there is a vacuum in between but that doesn't make sense, my existence (looking at one second to another, not my lifetime) doesn't have a jump because I'm continuously existing like you're drawing a line without lifting up your pencil at all.

If you break it down, you get:

In one second, there are 10 centiseconds, that is 100 deciseconds, that is 1000 milliseconds, that is 1,000,000 microseconds, that is 1,000,000,000 nanoseconds, and so on ... (in other words, this is what you actually call infinity).

Within these finite numbers, infinity abides. 

Guess what, a famous French philosopher, Rene Descartes, used this as one of his arguments to prove that there is an infinite being who was sustaining his (Descartes') finite being to exist continuously. Thus, according to Descartes, there must be God. (Note: for more elaborate argumentation, you can google Descartes' Meditation III.)

On that note, these numbers can also illustrate the plausibility for a finite being to contain infinity within. That is, a finite man can contain the infinite God within him.

(Modified from a tract, called "The Mystery of Human Life")



Thursday, March 24, 2011

Facts for Life (Earth)

I learned from a small booklet that:

1. In our solar system, the earth, everyone, is one of the 9 planets that have been revolving around the sun in a clock-like precision. It speeds through space 67,000 miles/hour and takes 365 days to circle the sun, not more nor less. The earth's rotation and 23 degree tilt of its axis give us 24-hour day, 4 seasons, and our varied climates. The movements of the sun, the moon, and the earth give us our calendar. The distances between the sun, the moon, and the earth provide marvelous environment for life to exist. If the earth were 10% closer or farther away from the sun, all living beings on earth would either be scorched to death or frozen. 

2. If the moon were 50,000 miles instead of 230,000 miles from the earth, all the oceans on the earth would be sucked up by the moon; the land mass would be deluged, and the mountains would be submerged. The precise distances and circulations of the sun, the moon, and the earth tell us of a wonderful design that is in place.

Did our universe emerge by chance? By training I'm a mathematician but anybody would know, by common sense, that such precise probability is basically an oxymoron.





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reminiscing Alexander: A Grave Note

"A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient."
-Alexander the Great
The Funeral Procession of Alexander the Great, 1940
The Funeral Procession of Alexander the Great, 1940
I've been telling people about Alexander the Great's funeral procession, that he had peculiar requests at the end of his life but I think I was wrong in the details of his requests. So I'm going to leave the details to the historians. Let's backtrack.

There was a young man, filled with unthinkable accomplishments: glory, fame, power, wealth, you name it. People even equated him with immortality. By the age of 30, Alexander the Great had established his Macedonian empire (one of the largest empires in the ancient world, overthrowing the prominent Persian empire). Yet he died at the age of 32, shortly after the grand conquest. 

He died, and that's the end. His funeral procession was lavish but he brought nothing to his tomb, well, not sure if he ever had one (the procession was hijacked, his coffin was moved around). On top of that, he said he was dying from the treatment of too many physicians, so he concluded that the top of the world's intellectual knowledge couldn't save him. His wealth couldn't save him. And obviously, he couldn't save himself.

Fulfilled ambition and unfulfilled life were two sides of the same coin. Now that's tragedy. What then have we learned from history? Anyone?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Someone stole my words?

Our full freezer at home.

So the other day Po and I went to Costco with some friends. We had just bought a whole box of Costco's frozen shrimp wonton noodle soup. As we were passing the frozen food aisle, I stopped to consider whether we should get another box or not.

Po: Hey, we still have some at home.
As I was staring intensely through the freezer's glass door,...
Me: Only four passed by.
Po: What? You mean only four left?
Me: Huh? (I turned to her and paused for a moment) Yeah.

Po is getting PPA for accounting, I hope I'm not getting the other PPA (Primary Progressive Aphasia), a disease that steals words. (Gasp!) Naaah.

What is LIFE all about?

"I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer." -Jim Carrey
I appreciate Mr. Carrey's honesty in that quote, he's being both wise and honest. Well, it's too hard for me to write profound thoughts at this hour, late into the night. But let's leave it like this, I've been asking this question to many of my peers these days, "What do you think the meaning of our life is?" And... apparently many haven't even considered this question seriously yet. So let this be just a thought for the night, when I'm sitting down by myself trying to sleep, and when you're doing the same - "What is life all about?"

Monday, March 21, 2011

My first time blogging...



SXSW
So this is my first try, I was persuaded to start a blog during my usual Monday night dinner at the Chang's. This is after the crazy, busy days of SXSW and everyone had just gone to the different sessions given by successful bloggers or something like that. Apparently, lots of blogs out there are food blogs. I'm tempted to start a food blog myself but decided that it'd be too detrimental to my general welfare, to be specific: the health of my arteries and bank account.

So how to describe my blog then, I would say my blog would undergo lots of turns here and there. It's a true challenge when your life isn't exactly what people call exciting. So yup, I take this as my personal challenge. Let's start this way...

I'm green and so when I talk (I'm not that eloquent either), people usually won't listen to me. But I would like to engage people's thoughts concerning things that I've been considering about. Sounds too vague, huh? That's because I don't know how to put it in a better way. Back to the title of this blog though, I wish to incite a change in someone's mind somewhere.