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Ayla Jain

@aylajain

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Virtual Reality: Origins

The Theater and its Double was a 1938 book by French playwright Antonin Artaud, the first-ever record of the word ‘virtual reality. A reality that was both illusionary and fictitious.

The 1950s saw inventor Morton Helig working on a projection booth with 3D images and sound, a moving seat and smells/sensations of the road to give an impression that the person on the seat was riding a motorcycle, trying to give the first taste of virtual reality. It never went into production.

@aylajain

Who popularized the term 'virtual reality'?

science.howstuffworks.com

Virtual reality was termed somatic cognition and also augmented reality over the years, but the term Virtual Reality or VR stuck, popularized in the 1980s by Jaron Lanier, a gifted music composer, author and Time Magazine’s 100-most-influential-People honoree.

He developed a virtual reality headpiece with a glove, a technology that used a virtual space called ‘cyberspace’ where virtual objects were manipulated.

Star Trek: Uses And Pop Culture Of Virtual Reality
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series (the one with Captain Picard) had the holodeck, a place where anything imaginable was experienced, like a past memory.
  • The 2009 movie Avatar used virtual reality as the main storyline.
  • The real world now uses virtual reality to tackle real-world problems, like doctors learning to use surgical instruments, for example.
  • The military uses simulated war games to train soldiers for the real thing.
Dark Matter Of The Universe

Dark Matter is a bizarre, unknown ingredient of the universe, which scientists cannot observe directly, but takes up 80 percent of the mass of the universe.

It is not seen by the naked eye as it does not emit light or energy. There are entire galaxies (like Dragonfly 44) that are made up entirely of dark matter. Scientists use particle detectors to detect cosmic rays, energy patterns, gravity, and positrons (anti-electrons) to research dark matter.

What is Dark Matter?

space.com

  • Familiar material of the universe contains protons, neutrons and electrons, also known as Baryonic Matter.
  • Dark matter is made up of the same plus also non-baryonic matter (neutrinos, free electrons, supersymmetric particles, axions, and black holes) which is hard to detect.
  • The objects of the universe that may contribute to dark matter are dim brown dwarf stars, white dwarf stars and neutron stars.
  • Supermassive black holes, the size of which is 21 billion times the mass of our Sun, can make up a lot of dark matter by themselves.

The way massive objects of the universe bend and distort gravity and light indicates to scientists about the existence of dark matter. The way large objects move about in the universe (velocity) also is a factor pushing towards the probability of much more mass than is visible.

Dark matter provides the gravity and weight in galaxies, which would fall apart if all they had was what is visible to scientists via their various instruments.

Particle detectors and other dark matter detecting projects prove the universal interest in dark matter:

  1. From Italy, a particle detector named XENON1T is hunting for dark matter with an ultra-low background.
  2. From South Dakota, the Large Underground Xenon Dark-Matter Experiment (LUX) is hunting for weakly interacting massive particles (WIMP).
  3. IceCube Neutrino Observatory is situated under Antarctica’s ice, hunting for sterile neutrinos.

Apart from dark matter, the universe is full of energy, most of which is dark energy.

New data shows that the universe is not running out of energy like previous theories claimed, but is actually expanding at an accelerated rate.

Our inner 'demons'

Our inner Demons, or inner voices, make us do irrational, stupid and selfish things, based out of fear.

We hide and distract ourselves from our inner voice, which is nothing but our fear and insecurities, talking to us.

How to Overcome Your Demons | Mark Manson

markmanson.net

Our common negative parts

Some of our common 'demons' are:

  • Procrastination
  • Laziness
  • Self-loathing
  • Comparing yourself with your peers, leading to envy
  • Loser mentality.
The downward spiral

Our inner demons lead us to negatively judge ourselves, further leading to avoiding that judgment, and eventually starting the internal self-destruction, if the negative downward spiral is left unchecked.

Befriend your insecurities

You can befriend your demons, by facing them and objectively understanding the insecurity.

You will get insights about your demon and will begin to realize your various traits and the side effects it produces.

The other side of the coin

If you choose to value something in your life, you are also choosing the other side of the coin, which is the failure of that value, automatically.

No one can just choose to take the good while not taking the bad.

Internal insecurities

Having demons or internal insecurities is not something exclusive, but is, in fact, a common reality among human beings. 

Everyone faces their demons, and it helps us to understand and learn about ourselves.

The shadow metaphor

Carl Jung defined shadow as all of the parts of ourselves that we despise or loathe and therefore hide and avoid. It is impossible to run away or lose your shadow because ultimately, your shadow is a representation of you. 

No shadow can exist without a source of light. To rid yourself of your shadow would require you to rid yourself of the light in your life and thus, live in utter darkness. But denying our shadows and everything they contain is a source of a great deal of human suffering.

Becoming a freelance writer

There might come a time where you want to quit your traditional desk job and move into freelance writing. If you're going to become a freelance writer, you need to write every day, without getting paid for it.

Accept that freelancing is like starting any new job. On day one, you won't do much except for showing up and setting up your work station. Then you'll go through two or three months of training before you have your first basic assignment.

The Hard Facts You Want To Know About Freelancing

writingcooperative.com

The 2 - 3 months of training is really 4 - 5 months of training.

In this phase, you will write daily, on any platform, to learn how to write and grow your audience. Now is a good time to invest in yourself to help you get better.

If you want to write, you need to read daily.

Suggested books:

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. This book will help you understand proper sentence structure and grammar.
  • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott will help you keep yourself motivated and creative.
  • The Dip by Seth Godin will help you understand if you're getting into the right profession and when to quit if you're not in the right place.

Regardless of where you work, you'll do many training courses. Freelance writing is no different, except that you have to take the initiative and find them yourself.

Writing groups and networks are essential to become a better writer and understand freelance writing.

Learn how to form a good pitch. You are in charge of finding your work, meaning stepping out of your comfort zone, and sending lots of cold emails.

If you want to write for a publication, you'll want to pitch ideas that the editor will like. If you're going to write website copy, you'll have to pitch your services and write how the company will benefit by hiring you.

Job boards are a good start, but that is generally not the best place to build a career.

Starting freelance writing is a slow process. You may start with a gig that pays little. The next company may not like your style, but at least you now have experience. With persistence and consistent effort, you’ll be able to make the jump to full time.

We don't have only one purpose or passion

People will tell you to find your purpose or your passion. But we are multifaceted beings with many gifts, talents, interests, and ideas. Yet we are put under pressure to have this one purpose or one passion.

We will grow and shift so much in our lifetime that we can expect our desires and purpose to evolve too.

Don’t have a single purpose or passion? That’s OK

ideas.ted.com

Instead of concentrating your energy on one purpose or passion, try to focus your energy on bringing your passion and purpose to everything you do.
Ask yourself:

  • What type of kindness, care, joy, and patience must you use to bring purpose and passion to your relationships?
  • What level of openness and curiosity should you have to bring meaning to tasks?

Everyone has had jobs they didn't like on the way to finding the job they do like.

Regardless of the job you do now, remain curious. Continuously try to see what this work experience can teach you.

Our greatest sense of purpose or passion does not have to come from our 9-to-5 job. It can, but does not have to.

Sometimes a job is just how we pay our bills, and that is fine. Focus on who you are after your workday is over.

Cut down on your digital dependence
  1. Schedule your internet and email use. To train yourself, try waiting five minutes after a buzz, beep, or ding before reaching for your device. Then increase this to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so on.
  2.  Develop a ranking system for your email.  Sort into categories like (a) important and urgent, (b) important but not urgent, and (c) neither urgent nor important.
  3. Give yourself clear “online hours.” Set an alarm for when you’ll shut down every night.

Is digital minimalism the answer to our distracted lives?

fastcompany.com

Intelligence Is The Ability To Change

If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental belief or assumption that was held in your mind for years or decades, or if you have never questioned the basics, then you may be ignorant. Every process of transformation begins with a change of the mind.

Life is a series of changes, cycles, rhythms, seasons and systems, flowing like a river. Even your body is changing without your consent, and you can only accept the fact.

Why Albert Einstein Said: The Measure of Intelligence is The Ability to Change

medium.com

Change is the only wave in the ocean which you can surf and take control of.

If we live life without evolving, changing or upgrading ourselves, not becoming a completely new, refined person every few months or years, then we are stuck being average and not making the most of our strengths, not participating in the great process of transformation that life is inviting us into.

George Bernard Shaw
"Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
  • Most people do not make any room in their lives to accommodate better, smarter, faster processes and habits in order to automate their repetitive tasks, freeing up mental bandwidth to indulge in creative pursuits that broaden their minds.
  • If we still rely on the same mental models and principles that worked five years ago, then we are not really evolving.
  • Our ability to change as the months and years go by is the only thing that can help us survive, thrive and evolve.
Winston S. Churchill
"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."

Human beings grow and evolve naturally, based on our ability to change, and the knowledge we ‘download’ from our surroundings. Being in a growth or a change mode keeps us out of our comfort zones and in the learning zone.

The learnings and changes need not be radical, and even small, incremental changes in our habits and behaviours will significantly improve our life.

Types of excellence

Excellence is worth pursuing more than money or status. However, the idea of excellence holds a subtle distinction.

  • Excellence can be considered as a universal standard. To get 99% is more excellent than 90%. We line up everything and measure them against a common yardstick.
  • Excellence can be thought of as a niche. The whale isn't better than a butterfly in a meaningful way. They need to follow different strategies to survive.

Two Types of Excellence | Scott H Young

scotthyoung.com

As a whole, our working lives are more like niches. There are numerous professions, but the path for success in many professions are extremely narrow.

The more defined a field, the narrower the relevant dimension of competition.

  • For big spaces, the problem is exploration. Finding the right combination of elements is more important than becoming the best in a single skill.
  • As the space shrinks down, the problem is optimization. Excellence here is about winning and outperforming the competition.

The path to any particular destination is narrow, but there are countless possible options to follow.

At a general level, there are many niches you can find success in. But once you find a particular route, competition rises, and you're forced to focus on a few essential criteria.

  • At a general level, you have your values. A Buddhist monk and Olympic athlete pursue entirely different philosophies of life. Here, excellence has the most variety. With your particular philosophy, you can explore other niches. You can have a family, career, house. You could still become a doctor or artist.
  • At a specific level, your options narrow further. This is true in your profession, hobbies, and side-pursuits. You aim to get better, and are committed to improving on a narrow set of criteria.

There are different attitudes needed for excellence, but they depend on the pursuit. Diverse niches require exploration, creativity, and experimentation. But once you focus on a pursuit, you need a mind for efficiency and courage when you face competition.

Attitudes for each are very different, and the ability to recognise where you are is key. Being able to shift attitudes as your pursuits mature is also critical for excellence.

  • Strabo, Plato, and Aristotle used climatic factors to explain why the Greeks were more developed than societies in hotter and colder climates.
  • Aristotle developed a climate classification system to explain why people settled in some regions of the world.
  • An Arab sociologist, Ibn Khaldun (1332AD to 1406AD), believed that the hot climate of Sub-Saharan Africa caused dark human skin.

What Is Environmental Determinism?

thoughtco.com

  • In the late 19th Century, environmental determinism was revived by the German geographer Friedrich Rätzel. He was heavily influenced by evolutionary biology and the impact a person's environment has on their cultural evolution.
  • Rätzel's student, Ellen Churchill Semple, introduced the theory in the United States in the early 20th Century, where it grew in popularity.
  • Another student of Rätzel, Ellsworth Huntington, also worked on expanding the theory, which led to a subset of environmental determinism, called climatic determinism. He said that the economic development in a country could be predicted based on its distance from the equator.

Environmental determinism's popularity began to decline in the 1920s as its claims were often found to be wrong. Critics claimed it was racist and perpetuated imperialism.

Carl Sauer said environmental determinism led to premature generalizations about an area's culture. From this critique, geographers developed the environmental possibilism theory to explain cultural development.

Discipline and freedom

There is a strong connection between the notions of discipline and freedom: with enough discipline, you will eventually end up having the things you want.

Self-control and a goal-oriented attitude can go a long way together if you know how to combine them.

Does Less Discipline Equal More Freedom?

lifehack.org

In order to successfully achieve your goals, you need discipline and that is a fact. This translates by the need to build positive habits that will enable you to reach your targets.

However, you should always be aware of the fact that you can at any point adjust these rules to suit your current needs.

While discipline is necessary to achieve your target, so is the fact of removing any bad habit or rewarding yourself whenever you have accomplished something.

Making a plan for your daily tasks can prove life-saving, as it will enable you to keep track of both your progress and mistakes.

While staying in your comfort zone is always easy, it does not always lead to success. On the other hand, being disciplined when working on reaching your goal does.

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