We are all aware of the different types of and the multitude of ways we humans have divided ourselves, even though we belong to the same species. This has been going on for thousands of years.

Ever since we built the first villages, the first towns, the first civilisations, this concept of “us and them”, has prevailed. Anyone not belong to your civilisation or not sharing your “way of life” is automatically deemed an outsider.

Even today, in the 21st century, we have such opinions and today we do it in terms of countries and continents. But the divisions and differences run deeper than that and it seems that the sense of unity has been lost.

We only realise that we are one species and are all the same flesh and blood, when we are faced with a global challenge such as natural disasters or man-made disasters. But, should it be like that? Can we not unite without the presence of a threat?

A New Hope














Now, for the first time in our human history, we are seriously looking at colonising other planets in our neighbourhood starting with Mars and our natural satellite, the moon.

There are many plans by many countries and private companies to establish a permanent human presence on the Moon and Mars ensuring our chances of survival as a species.

We have been to the moon, have a constant presence in the low Earth orbit (in ISS), and have sent countless unmanned missions to planets, moons, asteroids and even beyond our solar system, but till now we have done it as Americans, Russians, Chinese, Indians or citizens of any other country.

With plans of colonising other planets and moons, humanity has a new hope of putting aside these differences and starting over as just humans and citizens of Earth and that hope has come in the form of a flag.

The International Flag of Earth



The first photo of this post shows the International Flag of Earth. It is made by Oskar Pernefeldt of Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden.

It was created for the very purposes I have been talking about. Space travellers of the future will be representatives of Earth and not just of the countries they belong to and for this purpose, this flag was made to instil a sense of unity for whoever ventures out there into the cosmos to further the human cause.

The flag’s design is a testament to that fact of unity. It consists of seven rings that form a flower at the centre which is a symbol of life on Earth. Also, the seven rings coming together to form this flower represents the unity of us humans who have to come together despite any boundaries, if we are to expand our reaches beyond our planet.

The blue color in the flag represents water which is essential for life on Earth and also signifies that most of the Earth is covered with water.

What Do You Think?



Right now this flag has not been officially adopted. It is, of course not mandatory for anyone to start using this flag in any of their space missions, but what do you think? Should we start this practise?

In my opinion, we should start this already! That’s because from here on, our space missions will keep on increasing. I have already talked about the colonisation missions but space tourism is something that will become a reality soon too.

So, it’s no doubt that humans are going to be travelling a lot in space in the future and I think we should start this practise of representing Earth as a whole in addition to any country when we are “out there”.

Also, if extra terrestrials ever arrive, what would they think of us if we do not have an official Earth flag!



All images taken from flagofplanetearth.com.
A New Hope: The International Flag of Earth
3:07:00 PM

A New Hope: The International Flag of Earth



This is a part 2 in the series "Ways the world could end". There are several threats to our existence. Some are man made and some are natural. In any case, we should be aware of them so that we can prepare for any doomsday event that might occur.

Let's take a look at five more ways the world could end.

1. Black Holes



There are black holes every where in the universe. Most galaxies have a super massive black holes at their centre towards which the entire galaxies are being pulled slowly but surely. But there are rogue black holes throughout the vast expanses of the universe devouring anything and everything in their paths.

These are the destroyers of worlds in the truest sense. Their gravity is so strong that even starts much larger than them are sucked into their black abyss and disappear into oblivion.

Scientist are tracking a lot of black holes but it is easy to miss some. Even if we could tell a black hole was coming straight at us, there would be nothing we could do about it. We would be utterly helpless. A slow wait would ensue. A wait for death to arrive and the world to disappear. There would be no earth left if one was to pass by.

2. Global Warming



This is a household term and therefore doesn’t strike fear in our hearts when we talk about it. It’s just global warming, right? No! Scientists say that this is perhaps the biggest threat facing the planet right now. This is the imminent threat faced by us that could just as easily end us if not dealt with.

Increase in global average temperatures, climate change, melting of polar caps, ozone depletion, are all either the results or byproducts of this. Our planet could end up like Venus where a typical day is 900 degrees Fahrenheit. It would literally be “hell on earth”.

Other implications of global warming are severe drought, famine, ecosystem collapse, increase in tropical pathogens. All these are equally dangerous and pose a great threat to us.

3. Solar Storm



The sun is a massive nuclear reactor in space. It is the source of our light and warmth. There would be no life without it. But since so much nuclear reaction is going on inside the sun that sometimes it results in solar storms.

Usually we are protected from the solar storms by the ozone layer. But other sun like starts have been shown to brighten up briefly by up to a factor of 20.

The sun has yet to have an episode like that. But in the scenario that does happen, it would destroy the ozone layer completely and fry the earth in a matter of hours. Such episodes are called Super flares and we may or may not see such an event for hundreds of thousands of years.

4. Gamma Ray Bursts



This is another threat that comes from outer space. Gamma ray bursts are extremely energetic explosions that occur during a supernova or hypernova, as a rapidly rotating, high-mass start collapses to form a neutron star, quark star, or black hole.

If a gamma ray burst was to happen in our galaxy, it would be a bad day for earth. It would destroy the atmosphere, the ozone layer, resulting in mass extinction, food chain depletion and mass starvation.

Such occurrences are rare but space is large and you never know what, when or where is something going to explode.

5. Global Epidemic



Throughout history the world has seen a lot of epidemics. Some of the more gruesome ones included the Black Plague that killed 25% Europeans during the 14th Century, the Smallpox, that killed 90 million Native Americans, the great influenza epidemic of 1918 that killed 50-100 million people in a single year.

The thing is, we share this earth with countless organisms, big or small. We never know which new virus or bacteria or fungi could be the cause of another global epidemic. Recent outbreaks like the Zika virus and Ebola have proven that.

There might be a deadlier organism that we don’t know anything about that has been lurking in the proverbial shadows all these years and could potentially kill us all or a large number of us. It has happened before, it can happen again.
5 Ways The World Could End - Part 2
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5 Ways The World Could End - Part 2


We, as humans, have always been interested in knowing how we will be ended, and when. Many early civilisations have pondered about the end of the world. This is evident from the many different artefacts and ancient writings, that have been discovered, where they have even estimated the time when this will happen. 
Even today, the end of the world is a favourite topic among writers, film makers, story tellers and readers in general. No doubt so many stories, speculation and theories have come forward with regards to when and how the world could end.
But we are an intelligent species and thus have to be rational about everything, even with an issue as grim as this. 

1. Warfare 

Nobody is better at killing ourselves than us. With the passage of time, science and technology has advanced exponentially. But, if every cloud has a silver lining, every boon comes with a curse in disguise too. Technology has been in use for nefarious reasons, for a very long time.
We have always loved killing. I wonder if that’s the instinct that has developed as a result of hundreds of thousands of evolution. But we have devised countless methods that could essentially wipe us off of the face of the earth.

Nuclear Weapons may be the most effective and efficient to do that job. Many different countries have amassed enough nukes to destroy the earth if they so wished to. 
Albert Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” If the world war III is fought with nukes, the world is sure to end and humanity will be reset.
Biological Warfare is another looming danger for humanity. Although it takes longer, it is a sure shot method to complete the job. As much as 90% of the world population could be wiped by an engineered virus. 
Imagine only 7,000,000 people left on earth, with everyone else dead or decaying. The scenario is as horrific if not more, than the zombie apocalypse shown on T.V shows. 
Chemical Warfare is yet another “ingenious method” we have created to end ourselves. We are really suicidal as a species, I guess. 
Anyways, chemical warfare involves using chemical substances as weapons. They are very toxic and nature and could potentially wipe out a large number of population very efficiently. Some examples include, nerve agents, mustard gas, ricin, abrin, etc. 

2. Asteroid Impact


This is something that is out of our hands. We are at the mercy of the universe on this one. We know that this is a legitimate threat as we have proof that earth has been frequently bombarded by asteroids in the past. The last major one wiped out the dinosaurs and almost life as we know it. 
NASA has been tracking several asteroids to make sure they can be better prepared when an asteroid is headed straight for us. Right now that doesn’t happen till 2175, or so they say. But technology has reached a place where the asteroids could potentially be dealt with while they are in space and millions of miles away from us. 
But we have also missed several of these and are often surprised as one of them passes by earth while we are totally unprepared to do anything. Could we follow dinosaurs to the grave? Only time will tell.

3. Robot Ascension


This is not limited to sci-fi movies anymore. It’s fast becoming a real world issue, especially in the last 5 years. The development of AI is at full surge and and at this pace who knows when an autonomous AI will finally be presented to the world. And with robotics advancing at the rate it is, we will soon have robots taking over a lot of jobs for us.
But an AI that can think for itself, develop and replicate itself, is a powerful creation. One that can easily take over the creator (humans). AI could come to the logical conclusions that we are the bad guys, the scourge of the earth, what with all the killings and destruction of earth, you know. 
If that happens, we better have a separate planet ready for inhabitation cause this one will be a death sentence. We all know what happens when AI goes rogue or takes over. We have watched enough movies to know the horrors we would face on a daily basis. Once again, we would be responsible for our own doom.

4. Reversal of Earth's Magnetic Poles


Earth’s magnetic poles have a history of reversal in position. Geological records show that this happens every few hundred thousand years. Scientists believe that the last one happened around 780,000 years ago, so we are long overdue. 
It would cause massive earthquakes unlike anything before, climate change hundred times faster, tsunamis, volcanic eruption and mass extinction of every species on earth.
It sounds very much like the movie 2012. But in fact, it would be even worse. Of course, you wouldn’t be alive for long to watch it happen, but that’s not the case. If this happens, it would barely leave anyone alive. And life would take another millions of years to flourish again. Maybe that’s the nature’s way of rinse and repeat.

5. Alien Invasion


This one may seem a bit far fetched, so hear me out. There are countless galaxies in the universe and billion times that are the stars. And we know that planets are generally found revolving the stars. So, the possibility that life exists elsewhere is highly probable. In fact, personally, I believe it to be true. Thinking otherwise would be very egoistic on our part.
Anyways, any intelligent species that has become a spacefaring one, would definitely like to “check out” other intelligent life forms. Now, they might be malevolent or benevolent. We don’t know, There is no way to tell.
But one thing is for sure. If a highly advanced malevolent alien civilisation were to come to earth for whatever reasons, it could spell the end of our civilisation. They could wipe us out in a single energy blast or slowly, turning our biological bodies into their “resources”. Either way, it would be a death sentence.
5 Ways The World Could End
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5 Ways The World Could End


Every species goes through the process of evolution over hundreds of thousands of years. We, ourselves, have evolved over millions of years to become what we are today; the only intelligent civilisation on earth. 
But with that intelligence comes power. The power to speed up evolution. To enhance ourselves in ways that nature just can’t do. But as they say, with great power, comes great responsibility. So keeping that in mind, lets dive deeper.

What Are Bio-Enhancements?

Bio-enhancements are a result of the advancement in bio-technology that let us overcome our limitations either temporarily or permanently. These can include any device or material that can be used in place of, or in conjunction with any parts/organs of the human body.

Use Case Scenarios

Broadly speaking there are two use case scenarios:
1. Bio-tech can be vastly useful in the medical field to treat illness and disability.
2. It can also be used to enhance the physical or mental capabilities of humans essentially giving us superpowers.

Technologies


1. Artificial Organs

(Artificial Heart created by SynCardia)

A lot of the most important organs in our bodies have already been created artificially in the lab and the rest of them are being worked upon. Artificial heart, kidney, lung, pancreas, liver and intestines will one day be readily available to patients. We will no longer have to wait for real organs which can take anywhere from a few weeks to months even.
This is a big deal. A lot of deaths occur due to organ failure each year. All those people will now be able to just discard their ‘failed organ’ and replace it with an artificial one. And when the artificial one wears out, it will be replaced by a newer one! 
This is like converting the human body into a motor bike where you just replace the damaged parts with new ones in a workshop called hospital! 

2. Lifelike, Thought-Controlled Prosthetics













Prosthetic Technology has come really far in the past decade. Scientists have developed prosthetics that are capable of precise movements that look just like real body parts. 
Moreover, they are also developing the technology that allows a user to control his prosthetics with his mind so that it really feels like his own body part. 
The technology has come so far that today there exists a bionic arm that can “feel” objects. To test this, an amputee user was blindfolded and he was still able to tell what objects his bionic arm was touching.

3. Gene Therapy














Gene therapy replaces the bad genes in our bodies with good genes. RNA interference as well as CRISP-Cas9 can selectively knock out gene expression. Together, they give us an unprecedented ability to manipulate our own genetic code. 

4. Brain-Computer Interfaces










This may seem like something out of a sci-fi novel, but trust me, this is being heavily researched upon. Basically this technology gives us computer like abilities. 
To achieve this, a tiny electrode is implanted into a person’s grey matter of the brain or on the surface of the brain. 
This could allow humans to control any electronic devices with just a thought. More advanced technology would allow for telepathic abilities. Just imagine transmitting signals from your brain to someone else’s and letting them know how you feel and what you are thinking without ever saying a word!

5. Nano-medicine
















Nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. This is a huge field and the possibilities are endless. Devices as small as cells may someday navigate through the human body to serve as artificial immune systems.
Researchers are also developing customised nanoparticles that can deliver drugs directly to diseased cells in your body. Blood clots or blockages in the blood vessels could be easily cleared out by microscopic robots, which could prevent a lot of deaths. 
Some nano-materials have also shown to be able to help in blood purification in lab results, by removing toxins, pathogens and other harmful substances. 
Nanotech could also be used to repair damaged tissues of the body by providing instant relief especially to athletes and sports personalities.

Ethical Issues

Technology will eventually advance enough to give us all the applications mentioned above and even more, that we are not yet capable of even imagining. But the issue that presents itself at every corner is that of ethics.
Just because we have the ability to do something, should we do it? Should we play god and alter the whole human race making ourselves immortal beings roaming the earth for eternity? Who decides what is ethical in the first place. 
And if the technology is available in the free market won’t it be injustice to the people who won’t be able to afford this? That would create a multi species within the human species. On one side would be the normal humans who cannot afford to ‘upgrade’ themselves and on the other hand there will be these ‘upgraded’ beings who are not even fully humans. This will be inhumanly unjust. 
And who is to say that upgraded humans with special abilities won’t wreak havoc on earth trying to conquer it for themselves like many mad men have tried in the past. 

Identity Crisis











When bio-enhancements become a common thing and people are replacing their organs for artificial ones and using advanced prosthetics, and getting ‘upgraded’, there will arise a situation of identity crisis. 
At what point do you stop being you and become someone else, something else. How many organs or parts will it take to not be you anymore. And if you do consider yourself as a new individual, will that still be human? Or a robot? Or something in between? 
These are tough questions and the answers to them will be tougher still.

Final Thoughts

Bio-enhancements are inevitable. They are coming. It’s the natural course of technology which moves from field to field, advancing everything in its path. We humans have always looked for ways to absolve our frailty as biological beings and this will finally get us rid of that weakness. 
But it will be upon us as a race to decide which path to take. One could lead to the destruction of the human identity itself and the other could advance us enough to still be called humans. 
Moreover, these technologies need to be wisely regulated so that no trouble makers get to make any troubles! 
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” - Albert Einstein

Bioenhancements: The Future of Medicine?
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Bioenhancements: The Future of Medicine?


The line between genius and madness is a blurry one. This, I think is the best way of describing the personality that Nikola Tesla was. He was a Serbian American inventor who took the world by surprise with his inventions that were decades ahead of their time. I think, perhaps, this is the reason he was called ‘the man who invented the twentieth century.’ 

Early Days

The story of Tesla begins on 10 July, 1856 when he was born into a Serb family. Growing up, it was clear that he was a smart boy and destined for greatness. He had an eidetic memory and was very bright as a student. He could even perform integral calculus in his head. He finished his four year term in just three years! 

Big Break

Tesla moved to New York City in 1884. He received his first big break when he was hired by Thomas Edison to work for him. Starting as a simple engineer, he went on to solve complex problems. 

He even managed to redesign the entire company’s direct current generators, for which Edison had offered him $50,000. But after the job was done, Edison claimed that he was only joking and thus, due to this misunderstanding, Tesla resigned. 

Years of Ordeal

After leaving Edison’s company, Tesla started his own company. But as fate would have it, he was forced out of his own company which left him broke. A man with such mental capabilities as him, had to work menial jobs like electrical repair jobs and ditch digging, for a salary as low as $2 per day. 

It really shows the struggle that great men throughout history have had to go through to become what they did. Today’s generation can take a lesson from this which wants everything served to them on a silver platter. Not everyone is like this though but we see people wanting an overnight success which is rare in itself and seldom lasting. 

Comeback

Tesla made a solid comeback by establishing another company called Tesla Electric Company in April 1887 with two other people. Here, he developed the induction motor that ran on an alternating current (AC). 

Tesla’s patents on this AC motor officially put him on the map and got him noticed by George Westinghouse. The later then asked Tesla to work for him as a consultant for one year for a handsome fee of $2000 per month. ($52,700 in today’s dollars). 

From $8/month to $2000/month, is what you call a very successful comeback. This also put him on one side of the ‘war of the currents’, where the battle for deciding between AC and DC as the mainstream power system for America was being decided. 

Inventions


1. X-Ray


Though a lot of people had started work on X-rays, it was Nikola Tesla who researched the entire gamut. He played a vital role in pushing the technology forward that is so commonly used in today’s medical field. 

2. Wireless Energy Transfer


It is no secret that Nikola Tesla had devised a way to wirelessly transmit electricity over long distances. He had done it earlier with cables using AC but was already looking to ‘cut the cord’, 123 years ago! 

He dreamed that the fundamentals and the foundations of the technology he had created, would allow us to shoot power into the atmosphere, from where our electric devices could pull the power. Just like how we receive cell reception today, we would be able to receive electricity. Just imagine never having to charge your various gadgets! 

If only the technology had not been suppressed by the corporate slug such as Rockefeller and J P Morgan, who were also his financial backers, we would all be living in a world we only imagine in our heads as the “future”. 

3. Radio


The invention of Radio is often credited to Guglielmo Marconi, who is also widely regarded as the Father of Radio. But it is only now that the people are becoming aware of the fact that it was actually Nikola Tesla who had invented the technology. Even the Supreme Court credited Tesla’s patent on Radio to precede that of Marconi’s. 

Infact, when Nikola Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat to the public, in 1898, they made outrageous claims about the technology saying things like it was magic or telepathy or even that the boat was being operated by a monkey! Such was Tesla’s mind. Ahead of it’s own time. 

4. Electric Motor


The electric motor, though seemingly common and a no-brainer today, is perhaps his most effective and important invention. It was used in industrial machines, in home appliances, water pumps, power tools and even in disk drives!

But there was one area where its application was practically killed. And that was the use of electric motors in cars. Such was the control of the ‘elite’ that the use of electric motor in cars is only now becoming mainstream thanks in part to Elon Musk and his aptly named company, Tesla. 

This had the potential to get the world rid of fossil fuels almost a century ago! Just ponder upon that for a minute. 

5. Death Ray


Tesla inherited a hatred of war from his father and after the World War I, he was looking for ways to end all wars once and for all. For this purpose, he invented something popularly called a Death Ray. It was reportedly in the 1930s that he managed to achieve this. 

The device could generate an intense targeted beam of energy, much like what is shown in the Star Wars movies, that could be used to obliterate enemy warplanes, ground armies, or anything in its path. It is also rumoured that he tested this technology on a patch of land covered with trees. 

The results were pretty devastating. So much energy was released from the weapon that all the trees in that area were literally uprooted. He had plans to make this available to every country in the world so that no country could attack each other, thus, ending any wars in the future. 

Interestingly, the plans for the death ray were never found after his death. Some believe that the US military has this technology in its possession.

6. Robotics

Tesla thought not in terms of decades but in centuries. He believed that we are just automated beings that respond to external stimuli. This thought resulted in the concept of robotics. Machines that could move around and respond to external stimuli much like humans. 

But he also believed that these machines should have certain limitations to them. He envisioned a future where there was a race of robots that would perform menial labour jobs for the human race. 

Final Years


Tesla’s final years were as uneventful as his early years were active. He lived alone in a hotel called the New Yorker Hotel. The rent of the hotel was paid by Westinghouse Electric Company, for the remainder of his life. He used to feed pigeons which seemed the only thing left that provided happiness to him. 

He was broke and in debt. For all his accomplishments in life, he should have been living a millionaire’s life. But he was a rebel at heart and crossed the wrong people continually. He used to say, “I don’t care that they stole my idea. I care that they don’t have any of their own.” 

He died on 7 January 1943, at the age of 86, in his hotel room. 

Final Thoughts

Nikola Tesla was a revolutionary figure who left his mark in history. He had 300 patents to his name out of which only 278 have been recovered. But isn’t it baffling that a man of his stature is mysteriously missing from the academic books? 

I for one, didn’t read a single chapter on him in school because there were none!  With so much contribution in different fields, there’s no question that, Nikola Tesla is the man who single-handedly invented the 20th century.


“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” - Nikola Tesla

Change Makers: The Story of Nikola Tesla
4:46:00 PM

Change Makers: The Story of Nikola Tesla