diary · mental health · Opinion

Shifting Perspectives – Spirituality

Just a warning, this post talks about death a bit and I understand that it’s a difficult subject to think about.

I am a quite a skeptical person. I’ve always been like that, I just think scientifically. Yet, the more you delve into the science world, the lack of answers give rise to thoughts and questions. As I’ve grown, I think it’s worked in favour of helping me become more in touch with my spirituality. Although, I was raise catholic so that might’ve helped a bit too. Regardless, in this post I want to explore spirituality more and understand it, looking at alternatives to my unanswered questions.

What is there after death?

As a catholic, I’ve always believed in God and heaven, however I have been open to my own interpretation of this. Despite this, there’s still one thing that makes me panic at night because of fear and that is; what if it’s exactly like before I was born? in other words, nothing.

Scientifically, we can analyse the brain after death, measuring its patterns. However, that’s it. We can take accounts from what people have experienced before they’ve been resuscitated but again, that’s it.

Entering into the realm between science and pseudoscience, an interesting concept that has been proposed is quantum consciousness. It’s where the quantum mechanics (nature explained in terms of atoms) is used to explain consciousness. In terms of death, scientists are starting to look into whether this means consciousness is possible after death. Some scientists even think that when a person dies, quantum information can be released into the universe, perhaps indefinitely, like a soul. While it’s controversial to some, it’s great to see that science is becoming more in touch with ideas of spirituality to understand the world around them.

Science definitely doesn’t know the answer to a lot of questions and maybe that’s just it, we need to explore ideas that challenge traditional science.

How does the universe just start expanding?

The beginning of the universe started with a singular point of infinite mass and density, called a singularity. It’s kind of similar to what’s in the middle of black holes. At some point, 13.8 billion years ago, this singular point just started expanding outwards, in all directions. Naturally, questions arise from this theory. What caused this? Why was this singularity here in the first place? And if space time didn’t exist, how was there a singularity there?

Some interesting theories include the multi-verse theory, which involves bubble universes splitting and colliding. Another is the oscillating universe theory, in which a universe expands to the point where it reverses into itself and creates a new one. The issue with all these theories is that there’s no evidence, only hypothesising. So, at what point do we abandon our conventional understanding?

Society has often looked to religion and spirituality to understand the unknown. A physicists and atheist named Alan Lightman describes the idea of splitting the universe into the physical universe and the spiritual universe. Physical being what can be studied and understood; and being the experiences of the universe that aren’t subject to scientific analysis. So, maybe the answers to the greatest questions about the universe and life are in fact, spiritual.

There’s so much left unanswered out there and maybe that’s the points. It’s up to us and our own spirituality to discover this. If our soul does exist indefinitely, then maybe we have a greater role in the universe than anyone can imagine. At the end of the day, whatever our beliefs, it helps us answer the unknown and gives us mental stamina. I know that personally, discovering my own spirituality changed my outlook on life and presented hope where there never was any. So, what’s your perspective in life? What questions do you have that can only be answered by spirituality at this point and how does this effect you mentally? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

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Opinion

The Climbing COVID Cases

Well, the United States has recorded 121,000 cases just in time for the announcement of their new president. I’m hoping that Biden will be elected and looking at the results it does seem that way. To any American followers out there, I just wanted to let you know that I’m sorry you all have to go through this. It’s the governments role to put whatever policies in place to keep their citizens safe and it was quite clear that Trump and his supporters only had the Economy in mind.

COVID is an incredibly infectious disease and it has already demonstrated that it can cause lasting effects months down the line. We don’t know what effects it can cause in the years to follow and that’s why it is incredibly dangerous. If people keep having the mentality that this disease is a conspiracy or that they won’t die if they catch it because they aren’t in the categories at risk – the numbers will continue to rise. I get that masks are uncomfortable but it’s very selfish to put the comfort of oneself above the health of others, especially if it means life or death for them.

I’ve only heard about actions that Biden will take to reduce the case numbers and I sincerely hope he gets in. I’m from Melbourne, australia where our premier put the entire state in a harsh lockdown for 3 months and made masks compulsory in order to get the cases down to zero. All people did was complain about their rights being taken away from them. I can very much see America doing the same if Biden is elected and he puts similar rules in place. I’m not sure whether people of the public will change their minds. For us, there were harsh fines in place if the rules were broken and it was effective. But I can not even begin to imagine trying to lower a case number as high as this. The highest we reached was around 700 cases daily.

The results should be in soon hopefully and most of the world is watching with fingers crossed that Biden is elected. Here’s my favourite tweet of the day to reduce the stress of the election. It definitey brought a smile to my face, I hope it does for you too!

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Opinion

A Life On Our Planet

This post is going to be a little bit different from my usual posts and it’s definitely scary to move out of ones comfort zone! While I love to write poetry, on mental health and psychology, I am also a scientist and it’s very important for me to communicate about science at times. Today, I watched ‘David Attenboroug A Life on Our Planet’ and it was incredibly sad and moving. This man has spent most of his life documenting wild life and so, he’s seen first hand the effect climate change is having on this planet. I can imagine how haunting this would be, because for most people we go throughout life not having the privilege to notice these changes in nature. He’s 93 and a lot of the changes to the climate has happened within the span of his life. I was greatly inspired, so for this post, I want to share thoughts, feelings and facts in regards to climate change.

Thoughts and Feelings

Before I speak about the my perception of the general public’s thoughts about it, I’d like to share my thoughts and opinions on it. Personally, I think we are getting to a point of no return and this is based on tons of evidence. There’s a so many factors that disrupt the balance of Earths climate and we are indeed causing it. In terms of the general public (those in non scientific fields), it seems to be quite divided. There are people who believe in climate change, as well as those who work to combat it in their daily lives and then there’s outright deniers.

I want to have a discussion on climate change deniers purely because when science becomes political, that’s when problems arise. We live in a world bombarded by media and it seems at times, that it’s there to fulfil a political agenda as well. I know in the United States it is prevalent and even in Australia. My overall understanding of it is that the media tries to sway an audience in favour of parties that don’t care about climate change. And of course there’s different types of media out there. I also don’t want to make generalisations but in my country we have the liberal party who are known to tailor to the rich. My biggest fear in voting such parties in is having this mentality is that people will think climate change is adaptable for humans. And that may be true to a certain extent, it is adaptable but only for people in developed countries and those who tend to have a high income. Even so, adaptation is only temporary.

The people climate change will mostly effect initially are those in poverty, farmers and many more. Sea levels will rise. Earths soil will become harder to cultivate and these people will be put out of the job. Even the chance of a pandemic occurring is significantly increased. It’s a very selfish thing to put the lives of people who are the foundations of society at risk and in one way or another it will catch up to the top of the class system.

This was just my interpretation and please if you have another understanding of it share it! Science should be an open discussion and about education, not throwing facts in other people’s faces.

How does it all tie in together?

Climate change is an interesting topic and it’s one that is continually evolving. In the past climate change was known as global warming. To a certain extent it is, however it was changed for a reason. People like to take the current weather and state ‘it’s too cold for global warming to exist’, and even going so far as to use that as evidence. While the earth is warming, that doesn’t mean the whole earth is going to be constantly a couple degrees warmer. There’s different climates everywhere and it’s a very fluid thing. Overall we will see an increase in global temperature (land and ocean), but that also means there’s going to be colder winters. Warmer temperatures in the Arctic will cause cold air to move down to North America resulting in colder winters. Everything ties in together and Earth has a lot of complex systems that work with one another.

You may be wondering what I mean by everything and here’s a brief run down. Deforestation results in less trees to store carbon and thus there will be increased carbon emission. Eating beef regularly is a massive issue because if we have billions of cows in the farming industry they all need to fart. And I know it sounds comical, yet their farts contain methane which has an even bigger greenhouse effect than carbon dioxide. These farms also need much more land and resources than vegetation farming. This need for land causes more forestation. What makes this worse is that the population is increasing at a high rate and we will need food to live. There’s also issues with plastic. Plastic releases greenhouse gases when in sunlight and well there’s so much plastic out there. These are just a few of the things that can tie in together. So, what can we do about it?

What can be done?

Firstly, I want to go through what can be done at an individual level. One of the easiest things to do is vote in politicians who care about climate change. I think it’s important to understand the flow of funds and take note of what companies politicians are loyal to. Another way could be to reduce beef intake. I know that going vegetarian and vegan is not realistic for everyone. But there are ways to do this realistically. Eat meat only on weekends. Vegetarian food is great and quite diverse. I am vegetarian throughout the week and it’s very doable. You can replicate Smokey flavour and you can replicate meat texture too. Even ordering beyond meat patties. There are many components to a burger that add flavour and meat is just one. In doing this, we can see a decrease in the need for cattle farming. At the end of the day if demand is reduced then the issue is reduced. I think we have to shift our mindset from ‘it’s all or nothing’ to ‘small lifestyle changes will help’. Energy is a different story.

I remember in the early 2000’s we started to go more energy efficient and while that is progress, the real problem lies in how we create energy. It’s incredibly amusing how in my country it is up to the consumer to get solar power. We have a whole desert out there and it’s not being put to use. Sustainable energy is here, is it perfected? No, but it is usable and it’s the best we have. Even if we want to wait and develop new and better renewable energies, nuclear power allows for that. Nuclear power produces no waste that is harmful to the atmosphere. It does produce radioactive waste, however that can be used in nuclear medicine, agriculture, research, amongst other things. While it requires Uranium, an element that is in limited supply on earth, it buys us valuable time that we need to produce better renewables. And who knows, we could possibly be mining uranium from an asteroid one day. It does present safety concerns at times, however a lot of issues have arisen because or improper protocol or natural disasters. There are options available to us now, yet still very little is being done. We need to address this because the planet isn’t here for us, it will continue when humanity is long gone. If we destroy it and cause our extinction, it will bounce back eventually. Life will continue, humanity won’t just be in it.

Thank you all for reading! This isn’t like my regular posts but I really wanted to discuss an important topic like this. I feel that a scientists and just people in general’s biggest mistake can be in communication of information. At times we are fuelled by emotion, and as a result offer condescending information to one another. It doesn’t help, in fact it can do the opposite. That’s why I’ll always advocate for education through discussion, sharing ideas and understanding one another. I hope you enjoyed this article! And please be sure to watch the documentary.

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Uncategorized

The Coronavirus Outbreak

If you’ve turned on the news recently, I’m sure you would’ve seen the word ‘Coronavirus’ flash across your screen. Watching the news of the outbreak can at times induce fear as more and more people are being diagnosed outside the country of origin. In the post I want to explore the virus and it’s possible implications in the near future. Reading numerous articles on the web I sense a lot of fear mongering at times. I’m not stating that this couldn’t potentially spread to a pandemic scale, merely just presenting some facts and reports, in an effort to understand them a bit more.

What is the Corona Virus?

On December 31st, 2019, the World Health Organisation was notified of rising pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. At the time it was an unknown virus, which was then classified as a new virus belonging to the family of coronviruses (such as the common cold, SARS and MERS). The virus was named 2019-nCoV (Novel Coronavirus).

Initial cases of the disease showed that the patients had come in contact with seafood and animals at a market, suggesting the virus was transmitted from animals to humans. However, there were also cases in which patients hadn’t visited such areas, indicating person-to person transmission.

Presently, the means of transmission between person-to-person is unclear. Because 2019-nCoV has similarities have been drawn to SARS and MERS, it is thought that the virus is transmitted through sneezing and coughing.

Why Is This Virus A Concern?

In China, the Coronavirus is considered an outbreak, meaning a sudden increase in occurrences at a particular time and place. What makes this virus a concern is how fast it was able to spread between December 31st and now.

2019-nCoV demonstrates a 70% genetic similarity to SARS Coronavirus (SARS-nCoV). This also raises concerns because of the previous SARS-nCoV outbreak in China in 2003, in which 3000 people were infected and 774 killed before its disappearance.

These are the main reasons that the virus is being heavily monitored. WHO conducted a meeting of an emergency committee to determine if it is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Ultimately, it was determined the virus was not of concern, it is still considered urgent however. At the moment it doesn’t appear that those outside of infected countries have to be concerned as most cases are presented in China. This of course is a status that is constantly being checked and updated to ensure proper interventions can take place.

Outbreak Interventions:

Currently, Chinese health authorities have taken measure in surveillance, epidemiological investigation, closure of the market place the virus is thought to originate from and even quarantine. Measures are in place to aid in the prevention of the disease spreading, though a lot of it also comes down to the individual.

We have all seen virus movies and there’s always someone who doesn’t report their symptoms and infects one person, which then cascades into a lot of people getting the virus. This may be an exaggeration as movie viruses are highly contagious, though I do believe education helps prevent these types of scenarios. In order to prevent the spread of disease the public needs to be made aware of the risks and a means of self-protection. China is also working on increasing public communication to improve awareness. There are however, conflicting reports which state lack of information to the general public.

Those were the facts reported in various journal articles. Yet, there is still a lot of anger being reported from Chinese citizens especially in regards to the quarantine. This anger is due to fear aid, resources, supplies will be reduced, which is completely understandable. Wuhan is a city of almost 12 million people and lack of aid can ultimately result in its citizens feeling doomed to succumb to the disease. Pairing these concerns with the memories of the previous SARS-nCoV outbreak, the public is getting fearful. The reality of the situation is that only time can tell if this large-scale quarantine will work. Quarantine is very much a necessity at times, though it’s how you handle it that demonstrates it’s effectiveness.

With diseases it is very much a waiting game to see if interventions work. At the moment there is no cause for concern to the population outside of China and WHO is repeatedly holding committee meetings go ensure if it does become an international concern, early intervention will occur.

Thanks for reading everyone! I know this was different to my usual posts. I was seeing a lot of news on the subject and myself was starting to get anxiety. As a scientist I wanted to step back and think critically about the outbreak and do some reading on measures in place.

While doing this research, I really feel for all those suffering from the disease or in the quarantine zone. Just watching it in the News a lot of people are getting anxious, so living within the actual zones would be absolutely terrifying. Please keep these people in your thoughts and/or prayers.

References:

I detest referencing in any style, so I’m just going to provide the links for my information sources.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/anger-mounts-over-chinese-government-response-at-coronavirus-epicentre

https://qz.com/1790891/china-expands-quarantine-to-12-cities-and-35-million-residents/

https://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(20)30011-4/fulltext

https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m56