Albert Einstein with Rabindranath Tagore

In the context of Holistic Quantum Relativity's Socratic Dialogue on ATCA and IntentBlog it is useful to note that the Nobel Laureates Prof Albert Einstein (1921) and Sir Rabindranath Tagore (1913) met at Einstein's residence in Berlin, Germany, on 14th July 1930, as photographed. The recorded conversation elegantly demonstrates how the two utilised the language of music, as a metaphor, to forge common ground between science & spirituality.

TAGORE: I was discussing with Dr Mendel [mutual friend] today the new mathematical discoveries which tell us that in the realm of infinitesimal atoms chance has its play; the drama of existence is not absolutely predestined in character.

EINSTEIN: The facts that make science tend toward this view do not say good-bye to causality.

TAGORE: Maybe not, yet it appears that the idea of causality is not in the elements, but that some other force builds up with them an organised universe.

EINSTEIN: One tries to understand in the higher plane how the order is. The order is there, where the big elements combine and guide existence, but in the minute elements this order is not perceptible.

TAGORE: Thus duality is in the depths of existence, the contradiction of free impulse and the directive will which works upon it and evolves an orderly scheme of things.

EINSTEIN: Modern physics would not say they are contradictory. Clouds look as one from a distance, but if you see them nearby, they show themselves as disorderly drops of water.

TAGORE: I find a parallel in human psychology. Our passions and desires are unruly, but our character subdues these elements into a harmonious whole. Does something similar to this happen in the physical world? Are the elements rebellious, dynamic with individual impulse? And is there a principle in the physical world which dominates them and puts them into an orderly organisation?

EINSTEIN: Even the elements are not without statistical order; elements of radium will always maintain their specific order, now and ever onward, just as they have done all along. There is, then, a statistical order in the elements.

TAGORE: Otherwise, the drama of existence would be too desultory. It is the constant harmony of chance and determination which makes it eternally new and living.

EINSTEIN: I believe that whatever we do or live for has its causality; it is good, however, that we cannot see through to it.

TAGORE: There is in human affairs an element of elasticity also, some freedom within a small range which is for the expression of our personality. It is like the musical system in India, which is not so rigidly fixed as western music. Our composers give a certain definite outline, a system of melody and rhythmic arrangement, and within a certain limit the player can improvise upon it. He must be one with the law of that particular melody, and then he can give spontaneous expression to his musical feeling within the prescribed regulation. We praise the composer for his genius in creating a foundation along with a superstructure of melodies, but we expect from the player his own skill in the creation of variations of melodic flourish and ornamentation. In creation we follow the central law of existence, but if we do not cut ourselves adrift from it, we can have sufficient freedom within the limits of our personality for the fullest self-expression.

EINSTEIN: That is possible only when there is a strong artistic tradition in music to guide the people's mind. In Europe, music has come too far away from popular art and popular feeling and has become something like a secret art with conventions and traditions of its own.

TAGORE: You have to be absolutely obedient to this too complicated music. In India, the measure of a singer's freedom is in his own creative personality. He can sing the composer's song as his own, if he has the power creatively to assert himself in his interpretation of the general law of the melody which he is given to interpret.

EINSTEIN: It requires a very high standard of art to realize fully the great idea in the original music, so that one can make variations upon it. In our country, the variations are often prescribed.

TAGORE: If in our conduct we can follow the law of goodness, we can have real liberty of self-expression. The principle of conduct is there, but the character which makes it true and individual is our own creation. In our music there is a duality of freedom and prescribed order.

EINSTEIN: Are the words of a song also free? I mean to say, is the singer at liberty to add his own words to the song which he is singing?

TAGORE: Yes. In Bengal we have a kind of song-kirtan, we call it -- which gives freedom to the singer to introduce parenthetical comments, phrases not in the original song. This occasions great enthusiasm, since the audience is constantly thrilled by some beautiful, spontaneous sentiment added by the singer.

EINSTEIN: Is the metrical form quite severe?

TAGORE: Yes, quite. You cannot exceed the limits of versification; the singer in all his variations must keep the rhythm and the time, which is fixed. In European music you have a comparative liberty with time, but not with melody.

EINSTEIN: Can the Indian music be sung without words? Can one understand a song without words?

TAGORE: Yes, we have songs with unmeaning words, sounds which just help to act as carriers of the notes. In North India, music is an independent art, not the interpretation of words and thoughts, as in Bengal. The music is very intricate and subtle and is a complete world of melody by itself.

EINSTEIN: Is it not polyphonic?

TAGORE: Instruments are used, not for harmony, but for keeping time and adding to the volume and depth. Has melody suffered in your music by the imposition of harmony?

EINSTEIN: Sometimes it does suffer very much. Sometimes the harmony swallows up the melody altogether.

TAGORE: Melody and harmony are like lines and colours in pictures. A simple linear picture may be completely beautiful; the introduction of colour may make it vague and insignificant. Yet colour may, by combination with lines, create great pictures, so long as it does not smother and destroy their value.

EINSTEIN: It is a beautiful comparison; line is also much older than colour. It seems that your melody is much richer in structure than ours. Japanese music also seems to be so.

TAGORE: It is difficult to analyze the effect of eastern and western music on our minds. I am deeply moved by the western music; I feel that it is great, that it is vast in its structure and grand in its composition. Our own music touches me more deeply by its fundamental lyrical appeal. European music is epic in character; it has a broad background and is Gothic in its structure.

EINSTEIN: This is a question we Europeans cannot properly answer, we are so used to our own music. We want to know whether our own music is a conventional or a fundamental human feeling, whether to feel consonance and dissonance is natural, or a convention which we accept.

TAGORE: Somehow the piano confounds me. The violin pleases me much more.

EINSTEIN: It would be interesting to study the effects of European music on an Indian who had never heard it when he was young.

TAGORE: Once I asked an English musician to analyze for me some classical music, and explain to me what elements make for the beauty of the piece.

EINSTEIN: The difficulty is that the really good music, whether of the East or of the West, cannot be analyzed.

TAGORE: Yes, and what deeply affects the hearer is beyond himself.

EINSTEIN: The same uncertainty will always be there about everything fundamental in our experience, in our reaction to art, whether in Europe or in Asia. Even the red flower I see before me on your table may not be the same to you and me.

TAGORE: And yet there is always going on the process of reconciliation between them, the individual taste conforming to the universal standard.


What is a White dwarf?

A white dwarf is a dwarf star and the 'white' that was added to its name was just because, the few dwarfs that were found during their discovery appeared white--I'm not kidding, that's true.

Do you know how dense a typical white dwarf can get?

Well, if you don't, I can answer it for you: they appears in the size of our earth containing almost the entire mass of our sun. That's too much right?

Because of their smaller size and heavier mass these stars are extremely denser and compact objects having the average density approaching 1,000,000 times that of water.

To help you understand the way in which a normal star turns in to a compact white dwarf, let me explain to you the typical life cycle of a typical star.

A star takes birth when large amounts of near by gaseous particles--hydrogen atoms--attracted towards each other through the gravitational force, gets collided and coalesce--after much needed collisions--with each other to produce large quantities of heat along with some heavier compounds. The heat that got released during this process is much like a controlled hydrogen explosion, and is in fact responsible for the star to shine so brightly up in the space.

This heat got one more responsibility to look after: helping the star by restricting the sudden catastrophic gravitational collapse and thus maintaining a slow contraction process . Eventually there comes a stage where the star attains a perfect balance between the gravitational force, that which tries to contract the star even further, and the force that was caused by the heat energy, that which tries to explode the star out. And thus the star remains stable until one of its forces gets weaker, and we all know that it can't be the eternal gravitational force that gets weaker. The contraction process starts again and now the star reaches a stage where it was left with no fuel to burn anymore.

Now, what you think is gonna help the star from the catastrophic gravitational collapse??
--earlier it was stopped by the heat energy.

Well, its the outward pressure that was generated due to the repulsions between the sub atomic particles--electrons or neutrons or protons.

Here, the star that which attained balance through the repulsions between electrons is our required 'White dwarf' and the one that was supported by neutron repulsions is named as a 'Neutron star'

Now, if you still got a doubt like: what's gonna happen to our star if the repulsions that were supposed to stop the gravitational collapse can't equal the massive gravitational force?

Yeah, that's a good doubt and it was first occurred to Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, a well known physicist, and I'm gonna explain that in my next post.

And please do comment here if you got anything to say..thanks :)


Difference between Nova and Supernova

As I said before a Nova is a completely different process compared with a Supernova. A Nova is actually a sudden brightness that spreads across the surface of a White dwarf--kind of a star. The brightness is the result of a fusion reaction that happens on the surface of the White dwarf, and that fusion reaction is initiated by the matter that was gravitated towards and got accumulated across the surface of the White dwarf from a nearby binary neighbor.

This doesn't cause any sort of huge impact on the White dwarf's dimensions or properties, and hence can happen again and again as long as its neighbor stays close enough, and the matter gets accumulated on its surface.

Supernova on the other hand is a complete destruction of a star that which can't able to withstand its own gravity, when it happens to reach a certain mass at the end of its fuel consumption. The limit being found as 1.4 solar masses by Chandrashekar and was popular as Chandrashekar Limit.

Obviously it happens just once for a star that supposedly reaches above or equals Chandrashekar Limit, after burning away its complete fuel, unlike Nova.

Supernova got classified in to two types depending up on the way it reaches the Chandrashekar Limit.

  • The first one, as I mentioned earlier happens when a star can't burn anymore and endup above or across Chandrashekar Limit. This is more natural as it seems.
-- I will try to give a much detailed explanation in my next post. :)

  • The second one happens for a White dwarf, where its resultant mass reaches the 'Limit' through accretion of mass from its nearby binary neighbor. It might look like Nova in the beginning but is more powerful and more devastating, as there will be no star left over--other than some Supernova Remnant--at the end of the process that lasts ranging from several weeks to months.

Earlier it was thought that the Supernova is a kind of bigger and brighter Nova and hence the name. And now, the name stayed but not the definition. A Supernova is in noway related to Nova where the former is caused by the gravitational collapse and the later by the fusion reaction.
The only thing that appears common for the both at times is White dwarf.


What is a Supernova?

There was a star somewhere around the sky staying almost unnoticeable, and got burst out suddenly in to a blistering brightness; it's just a one more Supernova!--if not Nova.

The energy and light that was radiated in to the sky during the star's sudden outburst is so heavy that it can easily outshines the entire galaxy--for several weeks to several months depending on the star's mass-- where it resides in, and that happens every time. The energy that got released during the process equals the entire energy that our sun can generate in its entire lifetime.

The star explodes and expels the material it was hiding till then, in to the surrounding Interstellar medium at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s(10% that of light's). The material thus got released expands taking the help of a Shock wave that was generated during the sudden explosion, in the form of gas and dust called a Supernova remnant.

Supernova happens very rare compared with Nova, which is a completely different process and happens very often. For a galaxy in the size of our Milky way, supernova happens just once in every 50 years. Anyways, it's a lot more common process and happens once in every sec, when we look through the entire universe(as the universe breeds stars every sec and they are not eternal).

It's not that every star that exists in the universe can eventually turn in to a Supernova, but is entirely depends on the mass of the star. A star that which reaches a mass that is greater than 1.4 times that of our sun's, at the end of it's fuel consumption, will explode in to a Supernova. And that 1.4 limit was found by Chandrashekar and hence named after him as Chandrashekar limit.

Our sun according to chandrashekar can't turn in to a supernova but will end up as a
White dwarf, when it gets completely devoured of its fuel. And even no possibility of forming a Nova or Supernova later on as there is no binary neighbor, close by.

There are two types of supernova and I will try to explain them in my next post. :)

Check this one too..

What is a Nova?


What is a Nova?

A Nova is not a new star that appears all of a sudden in the sky, as its name suggests. It's actually a sudden brightness that appears on the surface of an existing white dwarf star in a binary system with another star.

The White dwarf star's gravity starts pulling off the material that lies on its binary neighbor, when it is close enough. This material that got accumulated on the surface of the white dwarf mostly contains hydrogen atoms. and occasionally, they got hot enough to start a nuclear fusion and the process begins suddenly. The hydrogen atoms on the surface of the white dwarf gets fused in to the helium atoms and in turn makes the star shine brightly.

This process continues until the other star gets completely devoured of matter, and it ranges from a few days to almost thousands of years.

Nova should not be confused with Supernova, which completely is a different process. Earlier it was thought that Supernova is a kind of very bright Nova and hence the name. Nova happens very often in the space, not like a Supernova, which appears very rare.


What is a Quasar?

Do you ever wondered, whether all those things that twinkles in the sky are stars?
well, twinkling is not just for stars. There are some far more interesting space objects that live under the mask of a star, and you can never distinguish them from stars unless your telescope is made to detect infrared radiation.

Quasars, this is what they--good scientists :-)--named them as they are quasi-stellar radio sources.

Quasar actually is a compact object like star rather than a expanded one like galaxy, surrounding a super massive black hole that lie at the center of a super massive galaxy. This super massive black hole in fact is responsible for all the power it is exhibiting.

They are by far the most luminous, most powerful and most energetic objects in the universe.
The energy they emit is in the range of about 1000 times that of the galaxies they inhabit in. They even show the heavy red shift (if a light source accelerates away from us, it appears more and more red) from earth, and that means they are moving faster away from earth and when combined with Hubble's law (galaxies tend to move away from each other with a velocity proportional to their distance) it shows that they are very very far from earth, and if this is the case, it can also implies that they are formed much early in the universe(as they traveled a lot of distance so far)

There are some very high radiating quasars in our known universe and their radiation almost equals trillion sun's--may be that's why they stay far away or is it the other way around. :-)

There is even a possibility that our Milky Way was once a quasar(according to NASA), may be because they didn't found any quasar at its center surrounding the massive black hole ;). The question is if it was once a quasar, what happened to the galaxy it was once surrounded by?

Check the video below to know how a quasar looks like:


Cannibalism among galaxies

There was an old theory that described the most intriguing thing about galaxies and now it was proved, the theory that bigger galaxies try to feed on smaller galaxies when they come near, is no more an unproved theory but is a fact today. A recent study on the cannibalism of the galaxies helps the astronomers to hop in to some new areas that remained untouched so far.

Scientists who studied this phenomenon even confirmed that it happens and is already happened once in our close-by sister galaxy, Andromeda. However, it never happened with our Milky Way, as there are no wimpy galaxies nearby.

The process is so simple: when an wimpy galaxies tries to cross the bigger or not so wimpy galaxy, the not so lucky weaklings--stars--of the wimpy one are slowly swallowed up by the bigger one leaving behind the traces in the form of so-called tidal streams.

These tidal streams or trails that left behind can help us find the way the smaller galaxy once moved before getting ripped off. These paths can help us measure the bigger galaxies weight--if you are a maths geek--and the way they spread their mass--the bigger the weight, the sharper the change, in the path. They can even help us to know the way the galaxies are evolved...

"You can see these very complex systems of shells and plumes of tidal debris that mark the past accretion history of the galaxy," said astronomer Chris Mihos of case western Reserve University in Cleaveland, Ohio.

I don't know whether he is a geek of some sort or not but he definitely had found some tidal tails recently around some of the galaxies in the Virgo cluster, a relatively near by collection of galaxies about 50 million light years away.

There is one more study and is more interesting since it was not only led by Puragra Guhathakurtha of the University of California, Santa Cruz, but was regarding the cannibalism of Andromeda--our most near by galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away(It doesn't in any way mean that Mihos is less interesting).

He had found some tidal strams around the Andromeda galaxy and says that..

"The tidal steams gives you a window in time during which the events happened: the last couple billion years. If it was earlier, it's unlikely we'd still see the stars"

His discovery helps to set Andromeda apart from the Milky way.

"It looks like our sister galaxy has led a more exciting life," he said. "In contrast the Milky Way has had a relatively quiet, quiescent last couple billion years."

There are no signs of cannibalism around the Milky Way as it happens with Andromeda once. And I guess, we must feel happy for that. :)