Sep 3, 2011

Bending the laws of Nature: Fringe Science

My date with Frince Science started just over a month ago when my friend gave me the T.V. Series 'Fringe'. It is totally based on the concept of fringe science, which is a result of bending the laws of nature. It got me so interested that I began recommending Fringe to my friends, but when they asked what it was about, there were not enough words in my vocabulary to answer them satisfactorily! Finally, I ended up giving this status update (but it didn't do much good, now, did it?).

Fringe remains the only T.V. Series I can't explain to my friends (unless of course I go into Fringe Science, which is no way self explanatory)! I can just say it's awesome :P

So I decided to extend that so that I don't have to explain it ever again! And yeah, this is probably the only post which lives up to the title of this blog. Transcendental, indeed!

Well, to begin with, Wikipedia defines Fringe Science as "a scientific enquiry in an established field of study that departs significantly from mainframe or orthodox theories". At this point, I'd like to state two facts. One, that, certain theories like Continental Drift and the Big Bang were initially put under fringe science and accepted only much later, after discovery of supportive evidence. And two, if behavioral science can be considered a science, I have no issues in believing in fringes! Here, I would like to point out some unbelievable research which falls under Frince Science.

Invisibility and invisible cloaks have always been one of the favourites for writers of science fiction. And it seems this fantasy is not far away from unfolding into reality! Scientists have been able to manufacture materials which actually "bend" light rays passing through them, enabling the object to escape from our view. However, this has not yet been perfected and certainly not made for camouflaging objects as large as the human body. So I'd say, wait for a few more years (read decades) to get a Harry Potter like invisibility cloak.

Certain (or rather, all) cultures believe in life after death, and hence comes in the concept of soul. It is also believed that just after death, the soul remains very near and after some time, it wanders away into the wilderness. Suspended animation is the scientific name given to the same. It basically refers to slowing the life processes to such an extent that they cannot be detected. However, it may also be possible to "hibernate" humans. In an other case, it may also be possible to literally 'bring someone back to life'!
As Wikipedia says, "In June 2005 scientists at the University of Pittsburgh's Safar Center for Resuscitation Research announced they had managed to bring dogs back to life, most of them without brain damage, by draining the blood out of the dogs' bodies and injecting a low temperature solution into their circulatory systems, which in turn keeps the bodies alive in stasis. After three hours of being clinically dead, their blood was returned to their circulatory systems, and the dogs were revived by delivering an electric shock to their hearts. The heart started pumping the blood around the frozen body, and the dogs were brought back to life."

Remember Terminator? Like it or not, such an assassin is surely possible! Not only that, you'd be able to transfer your consciousness into a robot, and achieve IMMORTALITY! And it's just a matter of years (again, read decades)! Singularity has been a theme in many other science fiction movies and novels, most significantly, in Sir Isaac Asimov's i,Robot, which was later turned into a movie starring Will Smith. In fact, if Intel CTO is to be believed, man and machine could be merged by the year 2050.

Telekinesis, or Psychokinesis, is  moving objects through your mind, LITERALLY! You must have thought about Telepathy, but moving objects? That's the work of Poltergeists, right? Well, it as actually a field of Science! It falls under parapsychology and some researchers even say it exists! Well, the the question to ask is that with such powers, what would you do? Self Levitation? Let's wait and watch.
Needless to say, the lack of public understanding of psychokinetic energy is due to the very fact there have not been any substantially successful tests or demonstrations, and that the proof we do have of its existence comes purely from anecdotal evidence. That said, the phenomenon of poltergeists is well documented – if not laboratory tested or proved– and is believed to contain a great deal of psychokinetic influence. The question remains: Are there actually forces we can feel and control, but which our intelligence cannot understand yet?

Precognition, or future sight, is a kind of extra-sensory perception which enables one to see the future. It is related to ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). The most popular example is Professor Charles Xavier (or maybe, Jean Grey), from the X-Men comics. Psychics are usually attributed to intentional trickery or self-delusion, but, even then, psychic detectives continue to assert that precognition is a reality.

Teleportation is the transfer of matter from one point to another, without traversing the physical space in between. Though it is the least possible of all facts that I have mentioned here, many people it is possible, at least in the near future. It is speculated that Nicola Tesla worked on such a project and in fact, in the move, the Prestige, they actually show a teleporter built by him. Although it may not seem so, but Teleportation is a very difficult task. Imagine destroying matter at one place and recreating it over another! Creepy, isn't it?

In Charles Dickens' Bleak House, a character named Krook burns to death without any apparent reason. That is where SHC comes into picture. The mere thought that a human being can burst into flames without any external source seems ridiculous, right? Yet, over the last 300 years, over two hundred cases have been cited! All that is left is a pile of ash. It is astonishing to note that no damage ever seems to be done to nearby textiles. There's always a paranormal end attached to such cases, but then, you and I both know Lucifer is just in the Bible (you believe me, right?)
The most celebrated case of spontaneous human combustion happened on 2nd July 1951 to a 67-year-old pensioner from Florida, USA called Mary Reeser. The only parts of Reeser’s body to be found were her skull, which had shrunk to the size of a baseball, her spinal column, her left foot, and a pile of ash still in her armchair. The authorities declared she had died in a normal household fire, but no part of her apartment, including cotton sheets and a pile of newspapers left nearby, was damaged. Perhaps the most acceptable explanation for the time being is that spontaneous human combustion is caused by an Act of God. However, scientists are certainly working on their end to find why this happens... Well, good luck to them!

Frince Science certainly does not fit into the conventional boundaries of Science, there is still hope... Even though it may seem impossible at the first sight, certain feats are possible given the correct amount of time, luck and dedication! Unbelievable? Believe it!

P.S. The T.V. Series "Fringe" has a lot of stuff on parallel universes, but that is just a bit too much, even for Fringe Science. So I decided to pass!

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