"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:
- from bondage to spiritual faith
- from spiritual faith to great courage
- from courage to liberty
- from liberty to abundance
- from abundance to selfishness
- from selfishness to complacency
- from complacency to apathy
- from apathy to dependency
- from dependency back to bondage."
This quotation has been attributed to Alexander Fraser Tytler but there is no reliable record of Alexander Tytler having made the statement.
A Reddit user asks the community: What is time?
A user who goes by the name of Amadiro replies:
Einstein showed us that space and time are inextricably linked, and really form one four-dimensional framework he called space-time. The laws of physics do not really say anything about direction in either space or time -- they are symmetric, and events happen the same, regardless whether time runs forwards or backwards, or in which manner the events are oriented in space. Yet time does not seem to be symmetric -- it seems to flow into one direction. We can remember the past, but we cannot remember the future. This phenomena is called a "time arrow", and we can think of (at least) 3 such arrows existing:
- The cosmological arrow, i.e. the direction the universe is expanding (the other direction would be contracting)
- The thermodynamic arrow (Entropy always increases)
- The psychological arrow (we remember yesterday but not tomorrow)
Lets start with explaining the thermodynamic arrow, and why the psychological arrow and the thermodynamic arrow really are the same:
The thermodynamic arrow says that order always decreases, such that the net energy inside a system that is available for work decreases. One can think of a cup to be in a fairly ordered state, whereas a bunch of broken shards are in a more unordered state, so the entropy was increased. Even though the laws of physics are symmetric, this is how we could easily distinguish between a film played forwards or backwards; if we see a film of a cup falling down a table and breaking into many pieces, we know immediately the film is played forwards, but if we see a bunch of pieces gathering together and suddenly jumping up the table, we know the film plays backwards, as such an occurrence never happens in real life. The key to understanding why this works in one direction, but not the other, is to understand that the other way around isn't impossible; it's just exceedingly unlikely. If one considers a bunch of atoms in a particular configuration, and then randomizes the system, there are many many states the system can end up in, but there are always much much more states in which the system is unordered rather than ordered. So it is simply extremely unlikely that a system would ever end up in a state more ordered, as there are always infinitely (?) more states that are unordered for the system to fall into. One can compare this to a solved puzzle inside its box; there is one and only one configuration of the puzzle pieces in which they form an image, but many many states in which they just appear unordered. So one can imagine this to be like a string of states with events in the middle, and the state on one end is ordered, whereas the state on the other end is almost surely unordered.
Now for the psychological arrow. As stated earlier, the psychological arrow (how we perceive time to flow into one direction, but never the other) is really just the same as the thermodynamic arrow. The thermodynamical error tells us that when changes are applied to a system, the system will usually be ordered on one side of the event, and unordered on the other side, but why do we perceive it to go from ordered to unordered, and not the other way around? To explain this, we can reason about a computer, which, arguably works roughly the same as the human memory (at least in terms of the psychological arrow; just as a human brain, a computer cannot remember the future), and, to make it simpler, we consider a simple abacus. Assuming the abacus starts in an unordered state, and we want to store some numbers on the abacus, we will need to move some of the pearls around, and after that transformation, the abacus will be in a state of higher order. However, to move the pearls around, we need to expend work, which, in term, increases the net entropy in the universe around us by many many magnitudes compared to the small decrease in entropy we applied to the abacus. This is pretty much dictated to be so by the thermodynamic arrow, which says that entropy always has to increase, so it is not possible to remember something the other way around, because to remember something, we have to increase the net entropy of the universe, and that only works in one direction, essentially. This is the reason we can remember what happened yesterday but not tomorrow, and because we can remember what happened in time "before" now, we psychologically perceive time to be "flowing" in one direction (but one could argue that it is not any more flowing in one direction as space is). So whichever way the arrow of entropy points, our perception of time also has to point. One could imagine another universe, where the arrow of thermodynamics is reversed, and broken shards would suddenly jump together and form a cup sitting on a table, and people would remember tomorrow rather than yesterday -- but then, their psychological arrow of time would be the other way around, and they would perceive their world to be normal, just as we do.
That still leaves the question of the cosmological arrow. Why does the universe expand in the same direction the thermodynamical arrow points? Could it possibly be the other way around? The only way I have of answering this, is based on the anthropic principle: if it was the other way around, according to our understanding of modern physics, the fundamental preconditions for atoms to exist would likely not be given, and thus no life could evolve, and nobody could be there to ask the question "why is the cosmological arrow pointing in the same direction as the thermodynamical arrow?". Thus we can reason that we could not have found this to be any different than we have, because all life that could possibly evolve in the universe would evolve during the period of expansion, not contraction (given there is such a phase).
Of course this leaves many questions still unanswered, but I hope this gives you some perspective on what time is, and it sheds some light on common questions like "what came before the big bang?" (if time is really just another dimension, and the dimensions where created by the big-bang, asking the question of what came before is of course meaningless.)
I can recommend reading Stephen Hawkings "A brief history of time" if you want a more in-depth explanation. Many of the examples and principles I listed here are directly or indirectly taken from his work, and he manages to convey complicated concepts quite simple and convincingly.
Use this extension to show the latest news from The Times of India in a popup which can be invoked from a button on your Chrome toolbar. In case you have a slow connection, please wait a second or two for the page to load.
In the popup, the mobile version of The Times of India website is shown.
For the use of IIT Guwahati residents only!
Use this extension to quickly view the posts without leaving the index page. This makes browsing the newsgroup very easy as compared to the original interface.This extension adds a '>>' button to the right of every post title on the newsgroup index page. Clicking on it will open the post below the title in a box of its own. Clicking on the button again will close the box.
For Chrome: Download (via extension gallery)
For Firefox : Download (zip)
For installing the addon for firefox, extract the zip archive and open the newsgroup.xpi file with Firefox and proceed. There will be no updates for the Firefox version of the addon.
What is it?
It is a desktop publishing application for publishing content to your website(blog). Its most compelling feature is that it uses WYSIWYG environment unlike the interface provided by your blogging software.
How to get it?
The Windows Live Writer is available as an update to Windows 7 via Windows Update along with other goodies such as Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker.
How to connect it to my blog?
When you launch Windows Live Writer for the first time, it will ask you a series of questions in a wizard which will include things such as the type of blogging software in use and the blog address. This wizard can be used to add multiple blogs via Blogs->Add blog accounts later.
You also need to provide it with an account username and password which has the rights to publish content on the website.
After you provide the details correctly, it will attempt to connect to the website and verify the details.
It will download the theme and other features to set up the WYSIWYG environment for posting content on the site. After this you will be asked for a nickname for the blog and if you want to share it via your Windows Live account.
How to create a post?
After completing the above steps, you will be presented with the main window. Here you can choose ‘File->New Post’ or ‘File->New Page’ to create a Post or a Page respectively. You will be shown an empty post with the theme set to the theme that you are using on the website. You can start typing as in any word processing application. All the editing and formatting tools work exactly the same. In the end just use the ‘Publish’ button or ‘File->Publish’ to Blog to post the content to your website.