The Invisible Soccer Ball

Recently I started reading a book The God Particle: If Universe is the Answer, What is the Question? by Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman. This is an old book written in 1994 where the author talks about the history of particle physics and the ultimate quest for the Higgs boson aka the God Particle. I’m calling it old because the existence of Higgs boson was confirmed by scientists in 2012, so I’m guessing some information in the book need updating. I just finished the second chapter and so far I’m enjoying the book.

One thing that caught my attention and which I’ve not been able to get out of my mind is a metaphor the author introduces to us to explain the existence of atoms and sub-atomic particles to laymen. Here I’ll share those few paragraphs from the book.

Imagine an intelligent race of beings from the planet Twilo. They look more or less like us, they talk like us, they do everything like humans —except for one thing. They have a fluke in their visual apparatus. They can’t see objects with sharp juxtapositions of black and white. They can’t see zebras, for example. Or shirts on NFL referees. Or soccer balls. This is not such a bizarre fluke, by the way. Earthlings are even stranger. We have two literal blind spots in the center of our field of vision. The reason we don’t see these holes is because our brain extrapolates from the information in the rest of the field to guess what should be in these holes, then fills it in for us. Humans routinely drive 100 miles per hour on the autobahn, perform brain surgery, and juggle flaming torches, even though a portion of what they see is merely a good guess.

Let’s say this contingent from the planet Twilo comes to earth on a goodwill mission. To give them a taste of our culture, we take them to see one of the most popular cultural events on the planet: a World Cup soccer match. We, of course, don’t know that they can’t see the black-and-white soccer ball. So they sit there watching the match with polite but confused looks on their faces. As far as the Twiloans are concerned, a bunch of short-pantsed people are running up and down the field kicking their legs pointlessly in the air, banging into each other, and falling down. At times an official blows a whistle, a player runs to the sideline, stands there, and extends both his arms over his head while the other players watch him. Once in a great while the goalie inexplicably falls to the ground, a great cheer goes up, and one point is awarded to the opposite team.

The Twiloans spend about fifteen minutes being totally mystified. Then, to pass the time, they attempt to understand the game. Some use classification techniques. They deduce, partially because of the clothing, that there are two teams in conflict with one another. They chart the movements of the various players, discovering that each player appears to remain more or less within a certain geographical territory on the field. They discover that different players display different physical motions. The Twiloans, as humans would do, clarify their search for meaning in World Cup soccer by giving names to the different positions played by each footballer. The positions are categorized, compared, and contrasted. The qualities and limitations of each position are listed on a giant chart. A major break comes when the Twiloans discover that symmetry is at work. For each position on Team A, there is a counterpart position on Team B.

With two minutes remaining in the game, the Twiloans have composed dozens of charts, hundreds of tables and formulas, and scores of complicated rules about soccer matches. And though the rules might all be, in a limited way, correct, none would really capture the essence of the game. Then one young pipsqueak of a Twiloan, silent until now, speaks his mind. “Let’s postulate,” he ventures nervously, “the existence of an invisible ball.”

“Say what?” reply the elder Twiloans.

While his elders were monitoring what appeared to be the core of the game, the comings and goings of the various players and the demarcations of the field, the pipsqueak was keeping his eyes peeled for rare events. And he found one. Immediately before the referee announced a score, and a split second before the crowd cheered wildly, the young Twiloan noticed the momentary appearance of a bulge in the back of the goal net. Soccer is a low-scoring game, so there were few bulges to observe, and each was very short-lived. Even so, there were enough events for the pipsqueak to note that the shape of each bulge was hemispherical. Hence his wild conclusion that the game of soccer is dependent upon the existence of an invisible ball (invisible, at least, to the Twiloans).

The rest of the contingent from Twilo listen to this theory and, weak as the empirical evidence is, after much arguing, they conclude that the youngster has a point. An elder statesman in the group—a physicist, it turns out—observes that a few rare events are sometimes more illuminating than a thousand mundane events. But the real clincher is the simple fact that there must be a ball. Posit the existence of a ball, which for some reason the Twiloans cannot see, and suddenly everything works. The game makes sense. Not only that, but all the theories, charts, and diagrams compiled over the past afternoon remain valid. The ball simply gives meaning to the rules.

This is an extended metaphor for many puzzles in physics, and it is especially relevant to particle physics. We can’t understand the rules (the laws of nature) without knowing the objects (the ball) and, without a belief in a logical set of laws, we would never deduce the existence of all the particles.

Perfect explanation for a sometimes difficult question to answer to people with non-science background, isn’t it?


The Basics of Bitcoin


Bitcoin is still in infancy compared to the fiat currencies, but the technology it employs is considered ingenious and revolutionary. Image: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

You probably have heard of bitcoin. It has been making lot of buzz lately. One bitcoin was traded for nearly $20,000 at some point last December. But what exactly is bitcoin? Let’s take a closer look at bitcoin, its technology, and some other aspects.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin basically is a digital money. Users of bitcoin can use it to do just anything that can be done with conventional currencies, like buying and selling goods, sending money to people, organization, or extend credit. However, bitcoin is entirely virtual, there are no physical coins. Units of currency called bitcoin (BTC) are used to store and transfer values among participants in the bitcoin network. Unlike traditional currencies, bitcoin is not controlled by governments, but by a clever cryptographic technique.

Where did Bitcoin come from?

In 2008, a computer programmer under the alias of Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” [1] In this paper, Satoshi outlined the design of bitcoin combining several prior inventions. Based on his (or her or their) paper, Satoshi released a software the following year that could be used to exchange bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto vanished from the public in 2011, leaving behind the development of the software and the bitcoin network to a volunteer open-source community. The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is still unknown.

How does Bitcoin work?

Nakamoto wanted people to exchange money electronically securely without the involvement of a third party like a bank or a company like Visa or PayPal. He designed bitcoin to be run by a decentralized network of computers around the world that keep track of all of bitcoin transactions, just like Wikipedia is maintained by a decentralized network of writers and editors.

The Basics

Just the way you need a web browser to access internet, you need a bitcoin application to join the bitcoin network. A “bitcoin wallet” is the most common user interface to the network. Once you download and install a bitcoin wallet (there are many bitcoin wallets, just like there are many web browsers), it connects over the internet to the decentralized bitcoin network. It also generates a pair of unique keys. One key is called the private key. This is stored in your wallet. The private key gives you ownership and control o ver your bitcoin funds. The other is called the public key. Like an email address, you’ll need to share your public key with others to make a bitcoin transaction. You can post it anywhere without risking the security of your account. It is practically impossible for anyone to crack your private key from your public key.

A public key looks something like this: 1GdK9UzpHBzqzX2A9JFP3Di4weBwqgmoQA. (Warning! Do not make any bitcoin transaction to this bitcoin address. It will be lost forever.) Stores that accept bitcoin share their public keys with their customers.

Transferring Bitcoins

This is where things can get a little confusing. When you make a transaction, say 0.01 BTC to your friend, your bitcoin wallet sends a value equal to the 0.01 BTC signed by your private key to the bitcoin network with your friend’s public key. The bitcoin network performs a check in the public transaction log stored in the network to verify that you actually have 0.01 BTC to spend. Your friend’s public address will always be listening to the network for a transaction in that address.

When you make the transaction, it is forwarded to other clients in the bitcoin network. These clients go through their copy of the public ledger and try to validate that you have 0.01 BTC to spend. At the same time some clients called “miners” are racing to solve a complex cryptographic mathematical puzzle using their computational power. A miner succeeds every ten minutes, on average, and is able to validate the transactions of the past ten minutes. When your transaction gets validated by a miner, it gets included in the block (think of a block as a page of a ledger). And once this updated transaction log reaches your wallet, you will know that your transaction has been successful.

The record of all bitcoin transactions that the miners are constantly updating is called the blockchain. A blockchain is a chain of blocks. The blockchain is the public ledger of the bitcoin network.


The Bitcoin Transaction Lifecycle. Step-by-step illustration of how the bitcoin Rob sends reaches to his friend Laura. Image: Patricia Estevão

How secure is Bitcoin?

A bitcoin transaction cannot be forged or modified. It also does not reveal the private information, like identities and personal details of the parties involved in the transaction. So even if your transaction is broadcast over public channel, like unsecured WiFi, your security will not be compromised.

Bitcoin is very much like digital cash or gold. And the key to unlock this cash is the private key in your bitcoin wallet. If you lose it, misplace it, have it stolen, or give a wrong amount to a person, it’s like dropping some cash on the road − there’s no coming back.

On the bright side, bitcoin being a decentralized network, the responsibility and control of the security is solely on the users. You can backup your bitcoin wallet containing your keys. You can also store it in multiple copies, or even print out for hard-copy backup. Now, can you backup your cash, gold or your bank account?

Bitcoin’s decentralization model puts a lot of power in the hands of users. And with that power comes a great responsibility of maintaining secrecy of the keys.[2] As long as your keys are secure, your bitcoin fund is secure.

How to obtain Bitcoin?

The best way to get bitcoin, for beginners, is to find someone who has bitcoin and buy directly from him or her. If you don’t know anyone who has bitcoin, you can use the classified service such as to find sellers near your location. Or you could sell your service or product for bitcoin. But the easiest way to buy bitcoin is through standard exchanges that offer the service of exchanging bitcoin with local currency.

But bitcoins also have to be “mined” in the first place. Bitcoin clients called miners compete to update the next “block” of the public transaction log by solving a complex cryptographic puzzle. The winning miner gets rewarded with 12.5 bitcoins. After every 210,000 blocks, the reward will be halved.

As per Nakamoto’s white paper, only 21 million bitcoins can ever be mined. As of this writing, there are 16,990,413 bitcoins in circulation.[3] Following the current trend, the 21 million bitcoins will be fully mined by the year 2140.

Warning! Nepal Rastriya Bank has officially declared bitcoin illegal in Nepal. So, anyone trading bitcoin will be punished as per law.

Who controls Bitcoin?

No one. Or the entire bitcoin community which includes developers, miners, users, and traders.

In Nakamoto’s paper, there’s a loophole though: if more than half of the computing power of the bitcoin network falls in the hands of a single entity, things could change. They could then help forge transactions by removing them from the blockchain.

But this is very unlikely to happen for two reasons. Firstly, if someone amassed 51% of the total computational power, it would attract significant attention. Secondly, there is no incentive in attacking the network. Let’s say if someone actually amassed 51% of the total computational power of the entire network, would they risk losing all to attack the network when they could mine bitcoin with that power and earn a lot more? They would risk losing all their bitcoins. The trust in the bitcoin code and the mutually beneficial incentives is the key to bitcoin’s success.

Only time will tell if bitcoin will succeed in becoming the currency of everyday use. But the the blockchain technology it employs is here to stay.


[1] Nakamoto S. Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. 2008. Available from:
[2] Antonopoulos AM. Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain. 2nd ed. O’Reilly. Sebastopol (CA). 2017.
[3] Bitcoin Block Reward Halving Countdown. Available from:

The Last Question by Issac Asimov

Do you like science fiction stories? If yes, you must have probably read (or at least heard of) Issac Asimov. And if no, try reading this short story by the master of the science fiction genre himself. Asimov believed this is the best story he ever wrote. I’m sure it will blow your mind. And it’ll take just around 15 minutes. 

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way:

Alexander Adell and Bertram Lupov were two of the faithful attendants of Multivac. As well as any human beings could, they knew what lay behind the cold, clicking, flashing face — miles and miles of face — of that giant computer. They had at least a vague notion of the general plan of relays and circuits that had long since grown past the point where any single human could possibly have a firm grasp of the whole.

Multivac was self-adjusting and self-correcting. It had to be, for nothing human could adjust and correct it quickly enough or even adequately enough — so Adell and Lupov attended the monstrous giant only lightly and superficially, yet as well as any men could. They fed it data, adjusted questions to its needs and translated the answers that were issued. Certainly they, and all others like them, were fully entitled to share In the glory that was Multivac’s.

For decades, Multivac had helped design the ships and plot the trajectories that enabled man to reach the Moon, Mars, and Venus, but past that, Earth’s poor resources could not support the ships. Too much energy was needed for the long trips. Earth exploited its coal and uranium with increasing efficiency, but there was only so much of both.

But slowly Multivac learned enough to answer deeper questions more fundamentally, and on May 14, 2061, what had been theory, became fact.

The energy of the sun was stored, converted, and utilized directly on a planet-wide scale. All Earth turned off its burning coal, its fissioning uranium, and flipped the switch that connected all of it to a small station, one mile in diameter, circling the Earth at half the distance of the Moon. All Earth ran by invisible beams of sunpower.

Seven days had not sufficed to dim the glory of it and Adell and Lupov finally managed to escape from the public function, and to meet in quiet where no one would think of looking for them, in the deserted underground chambers, where portions of the mighty buried body of Multivac showed. Unattended, idling, sorting data with contented lazy clickings, Multivac, too, had earned its vacation and the boys appreciated that. They had no intention, originally, of disturbing it.

They had brought a bottle with them, and their only concern at the moment was to relax in the company of each other and the bottle.

“It’s amazing when you think of it,” said Adell. His broad face had lines of weariness in it, and he stirred his drink slowly with a glass rod, watching the cubes of ice slur clumsily about. “All the energy we can possibly ever use for free. Enough energy, if we wanted to draw on it, to melt all Earth into a big drop of impure liquid iron, and still never miss the energy so used. All the energy we could ever use, forever and forever and forever.”

Lupov cocked his head sideways. He had a trick of doing that when he wanted to be contrary, and he wanted to be contrary now, partly because he had had to carry the ice and glassware. “Not forever,” he said.

“Oh, hell, just about forever. Till the sun runs down, Bert.”

“That’s not forever.”

“All right, then. Billions and billions of years. Twenty billion, maybe. Are you satisfied?”

Lupov put his fingers through his thinning hair as though to reassure himself that some was still left and sipped gently at his own drink. “Twenty billion years isn’t forever.”

“Will, it will last our time, won’t it?”

“So would the coal and uranium.”

“All right, but now we can hook up each individual spaceship to the Solar Station, and it can go to Pluto and back a million times without ever worrying about fuel. You can’t do THAT on coal and uranium. Ask Multivac, if you don’t believe me.”

“I don’t have to ask Multivac. I know that.”

“Then stop running down what Multivac’s done for us,” said Adell, blazing up. “It did all right.”

“Who says it didn’t? What I say is that a sun won’t last forever. That’s all I’m saying. We’re safe for twenty billion years, but then what?” Lupov pointed a slightly shaky finger at the other. “And don’t say we’ll switch to another sun.”

There was silence for a while. Adell put his glass to his lips only occasionally, and Lupov’s eyes slowly closed. They rested.

Then Lupov’s eyes snapped open. “You’re thinking we’ll switch to another sun when ours is done, aren’t you?”

“I’m not thinking.”

“Sure you are. You’re weak on logic, that’s the trouble with you. You’re like the guy in the story who was caught in a sudden shower and Who ran to a grove of trees and got under one. He wasn’t worried, you see, because he figured when one tree got wet through, he would just get under another one.”

“I get it,” said Adell. “Don’t shout. When the sun is done, the other stars will be gone, too.”

“Darn right they will,” muttered Lupov. “It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. Some run down faster than others. Hell, the giants won’t last a hundred million years. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all.”

“I know all about entropy,” said Adell, standing on his dignity.

“The hell you do.”

“I know as much as you do.”

“Then you know everything’s got to run down someday.”

“All right. Who says they won’t?”

“You did, you poor sap. You said we had all the energy we needed, forever. You said ‘forever.'”

“It was Adell’s turn to be contrary. “Maybe we can build things up again someday,” he said.


“Why not? Someday.”


“Ask Multivac.”

You ask Multivac. I dare you. Five dollars says it can’t be done.”

Adell was just drunk enough to try, just sober enough to be able to phrase the necessary symbols and operations into a question which, in words, might have corresponded to this: Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?

Or maybe it could be put more simply like this: How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?

Multivac fell dead and silent. The slow flashing of lights ceased, the distant sounds of clicking relays ended.

Then, just as the frightened technicians felt they could hold their breath no longer, there was a sudden springing to life of the teletype attached to that portion of Multivac. Five words were printed: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

“No bet,” whispered Lupov. They left hurriedly.

By next morning, the two, plagued with throbbing head and cottony mouth, had forgotten about the incident.

Jerrodd, Jerrodine, and Jerrodette I and II watched the starry picture in the visiplate change as the passage through hyperspace was completed in its non-time lapse. At once, the even powdering of stars gave way to the predominance of a single bright marble-disk, centered.

“That’s X-23,” said Jerrodd confidently. His thin hands clamped tightly behind his back and the knuckles whitened.

The little Jerrodettes, both girls, had experienced the hyperspace passage for the first time in their lives and were self-conscious over the momentary sensation of inside-outness. They buried their giggles and chased one another wildly about their mother, screaming, “We’ve reached X-23 — we’ve reached X-23 — we’ve —-”

“Quiet, children,” said Jerrodine sharply. “Are you sure, Jerrodd?”

“What is there to be but sure?” asked Jerrodd, glancing up at the bulge of featureless metal just under the ceiling. It ran the length of the room, disappearing through the wall at either end. It was as long as the ship.

Jerrodd scarcely knew a thing about the thick rod of metal except that it was called a Microvac, that one asked it questions if one wished; that if one did not it still had its task of guiding the ship to a preordered destination; of feeding on energies from the various Sub-galactic Power Stations; of computing the equations for the hyperspacial jumps.

Jerrodd and his family had only to wait and live in the comfortable residence quarters of the ship.

Someone had once told Jerrodd that the “ac” at the end of “Microvac” stood for “analog computer” in ancient English, but he was on the edge of forgetting even that.

Jerrodine’s eyes were moist as she watched the visiplate. “I can’t help it. I feel funny about leaving Earth.”

“Why for Pete’s sake?” demanded Jerrodd. “We had nothing there. We’ll have everything on X-23. You won’t be alone. You won’t be a pioneer. There are over a million people on the planet already. Good Lord, our great grandchildren will be looking for new worlds because X-23 will be overcrowded.”

Then, after a reflective pause, “I tell you, it’s a lucky thing the computers worked out interstellar travel the way the race is growing.”

“I know, I know,” said Jerrodine miserably.

Jerrodette I said promptly, “Our Microvac is the best Microvac in the world.”

“I think so, too,” said Jerrodd, tousling her hair.

It was a nice feeling to have a Microvac of your own and Jerrodd was glad he was part of his generation and no other. In his father’s youth, the only computers had been tremendous machines taking up a hundred square miles of land. There was only one to a planet. Planetary ACs they were called. They had been growing in size steadily for a thousand years and then, all at once, came refinement. In place of transistors had come molecular valves so that even the largest Planetary AC could be put into a space only half the volume of a spaceship.

Jerrodd felt uplifted, as he always did when he thought that his own personal Microvac was many times more complicated than the ancient and primitive Multivac that had first tamed the Sun, and almost as complicated as Earth’s Planetary AC (the largest) that had first solved the problem of hyperspatial travel and had made trips to the stars possible.

“So many stars, so many planets,” sighed Jerrodine, busy with her own thoughts. “I suppose families will be going out to new planets forever, the way we are now.”

“Not forever,” said Jerrodd, with a smile. “It will all stop someday, but not for billions of years. Many billions. Even the stars run down, you know. Entropy must increase.”

“What’s entropy, daddy?” shrilled Jerrodette II.

“Entropy, little sweet, is just a word which means the amount of running-down of the universe. Everything runs down, you know, like your little walkie-talkie robot, remember?”

“Can’t you just put in a new power-unit, like with my robot?”

The stars are the power-units, dear. Once they’re gone, there are no more power-units.”

Jerrodette I at once set up a howl. “Don’t let them, daddy. Don’t let the stars run down.”

“Now look what you’ve done, ” whispered Jerrodine, exasperated.

“How was I to know it would frighten them?” Jerrodd whispered back.

“Ask the Microvac,” wailed Jerrodette I. “Ask him how to turn the stars on again.”

“Go ahead,” said Jerrodine. “It will quiet them down.” (Jerrodette II was beginning to cry, also.)

Jarrodd shrugged. “Now, now, honeys. I’ll ask Microvac. Don’t worry, he’ll tell us.”

He asked the Microvac, adding quickly, “Print the answer.”

Jerrodd cupped the strip of thin cellufilm and said cheerfully, “See now, the Microvac says it will take care of everything when the time comes so don’t worry.”

Jerrodine said, “and now children, it’s time for bed. We’ll be in our new home soon.”

Jerrodd read the words on the cellufilm again before destroying it: INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

He shrugged and looked at the visiplate. X-23 was just ahead.

VJ-23X of Lameth stared into the black depths of the three-dimensional, small-scale map of the Galaxy and said, “Are we ridiculous, I wonder, in being so concerned about the matter?”

MQ-17J of Nicron shook his head. “I think not. You know the Galaxy will be filled in five years at the present rate of expansion.”

Both seemed in their early twenties, both were tall and perfectly formed.

“Still,” said VJ-23X, “I hesitate to submit a pessimistic report to the Galactic Council.”

“I wouldn’t consider any other kind of report. Stir them up a bit. We’ve got to stir them up.”

VJ-23X sighed. “Space is infinite. A hundred billion Galaxies are there for the taking. More.”

“A hundred billion is not infinite and it’s getting less infinite all the time. Consider! Twenty thousand years ago, mankind first solved the problem of utilizing stellar energy, and a few centuries later, interstellar travel became possible. It took mankind a million years to fill one small world and then only fifteen thousand years to fill the rest of the Galaxy. Now the population doubles every ten years –”

VJ-23X interrupted. “We can thank immortality for that.”

“Very well. Immortality exists and we have to take it into account. I admit it has its seamy side, this immortality. The Galactic AC has solved many problems for us, but in solving the problems of preventing old age and death, it has undone all its other solutions.”

“Yet you wouldn’t want to abandon life, I suppose.”

“Not at all,” snapped MQ-17J, softening it at once to, “Not yet. I’m by no means old enough. How old are you?”

“Two hundred twenty-three. And you?”

“I’m still under two hundred. –But to get back to my point. Population doubles every ten years. Once this Galaxy is filled, we’ll have another filled in ten years. Another ten years and we’ll have filled two more. Another decade, four more. In a hundred years, we’ll have filled a thousand Galaxies. In a thousand years, a million Galaxies. In ten thousand years, the entire known Universe. Then what?”

VJ-23X said, “As a side issue, there’s a problem of transportation. I wonder how many sunpower units it will take to move Galaxies of individuals from one Galaxy to the next.”

“A very good point. Already, mankind consumes two sunpower units per year.”

“Most of it’s wasted. After all, our own Galaxy alone pours out a thousand sunpower units a year and we only use two of those.”

“Granted, but even with a hundred per cent efficiency, we can only stave off the end. Our energy requirements are going up in geometric progression even faster than our population. We’ll run out of energy even sooner than we run out of Galaxies. A good point. A very good point.”

“We’ll just have to build new stars out of interstellar gas.”

“Or out of dissipated heat?” asked MQ-17J, sarcastically.

“There may be some way to reverse entropy. We ought to ask the Galactic AC.”

VJ-23X was not really serious, but MQ-17J pulled out his AC-contact from his pocket and placed it on the table before him.

“I’ve half a mind to,” he said. “It’s something the human race will have to face someday.”

He stared somberly at his small AC-contact. It was only two inches cubed and nothing in itself, but it was connected through hyperspace with the great Galactic AC that served all mankind. Hyperspace considered, it was an integral part of the Galactic AC.

MQ-17J paused to wonder if someday in his immortal life he would get to see the Galactic AC. It was on a little world of its own, a spider webbing of force-beams holding the matter within which surges of sub-mesons took the place of the old clumsy molecular valves. Yet despite it’s sub-etheric workings, the Galactic AC was known to be a full thousand feet across.

MQ-17J asked suddenly of his AC-contact, “Can entropy ever be reversed?”

VJ-23X looked startled and said at once, “Oh, say, I didn’t really mean to have you ask that.”

“Why not?”

“We both know entropy can’t be reversed. You can’t turn smoke and ash back into a tree.”

“Do you have trees on your world?” asked MQ-17J.

The sound of the Galactic AC startled them into silence. Its voice came thin and beautiful out of the small AC-contact on the desk. It said: THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER.

VJ-23X said, “See!”

The two men thereupon returned to the question of the report they were to make to the Galactic Council.

Zee Prime’s mind spanned the new Galaxy with a faint interest in the countless twists of stars that powdered it. He had never seen this one before. Would he ever see them all? So many of them, each with its load of humanity – but a load that was almost a dead weight. More and more, the real essence of men was to be found out here, in space.

Minds, not bodies! The immortal bodies remained back on the planets, in suspension over the eons. Sometimes they roused for material activity but that was growing rarer. Few new individuals were coming into existence to join the incredibly mighty throng, but what matter? There was little room in the Universe for new individuals.

Zee Prime was roused out of his reverie upon coming across the wispy tendrils of another mind.

“I am Zee Prime,” said Zee Prime. “And you?”

“I am Dee Sub Wun. Your Galaxy?”

“We call it only the Galaxy. And you?”

“We call ours the same. All men call their Galaxy their Galaxy and nothing more. Why not?”

“True. Since all Galaxies are the same.”

“Not all Galaxies. On one particular Galaxy the race of man must have originated. That makes it different.”

Zee Prime said, “On which one?”

“I cannot say. The Universal AC would know.”

“Shall we ask him? I am suddenly curious.”

Zee Prime’s perceptions broadened until the Galaxies themselves shrunk and became a new, more diffuse powdering on a much larger background. So many hundreds of billions of them, all with their immortal beings, all carrying their load of intelligences with minds that drifted freely through space. And yet one of them was unique among them all in being the originals Galaxy. One of them had, in its vague and distant past, a period when it was the only Galaxy populated by man.

Zee Prime was consumed with curiosity to see this Galaxy and called, out: “Universal AC! On which Galaxy did mankind originate?”

The Universal AC heard, for on every world and throughout space, it had its receptors ready, and each receptor lead through hyperspace to some unknown point where the Universal AC kept itself aloof.

Zee Prime knew of only one man whose thoughts had penetrated within sensing distance of Universal AC, and he reported only a shining globe, two feet across, difficult to see.

“But how can that be all of Universal AC?” Zee Prime had asked.

“Most of it, ” had been the answer, “is in hyperspace. In what form it is there I cannot imagine.”

Nor could anyone, for the day had long since passed, Zee Prime knew, when any man had any part of the making of a universal AC. Each Universal AC designed and constructed its successor. Each, during its existence of a million years or more accumulated the necessary data to build a better and more intricate, more capable successor in which its own store of data and individuality would be submerged.

The Universal AC interrupted Zee Prime’s wandering thoughts, not with words, but with guidance. Zee Prime’s mentality was guided into the dim sea of Galaxies and one in particular enlarged into stars.

A thought came, infinitely distant, but infinitely clear. “THIS IS THE ORIGINAL GALAXY OF MAN.”

But it was the same after all, the same as any other, and Zee Prime stifled his disappointment.

Dee Sub Wun, whose mind had accompanied the other, said suddenly, “And Is one of these stars the original star of Man?”


“Did the men upon it die?” asked Zee Prime, startled and without thinking.


“Yes, of course,” said Zee Prime, but a sense of loss overwhelmed him even so. His mind released its hold on the original Galaxy of Man, let it spring back and lose itself among the blurred pin points. He never wanted to see it again.

Dee Sub Wun said, “What is wrong?”

“The stars are dying. The original star is dead.”

“They must all die. Why not?”

“But when all energy is gone, our bodies will finally die, and you and I with them.”

“It will take billions of years.”

“I do not wish it to happen even after billions of years. Universal AC! How may stars be kept from dying?”

Dee sub Wun said in amusement, “You’re asking how entropy might be reversed in direction.”


Zee Prime’s thoughts fled back to his own Galaxy. He gave no further thought to Dee Sub Wun, whose body might be waiting on a galaxy a trillion light-years away, or on the star next to Zee Prime’s own. It didn’t matter.

Unhappily, Zee Prime began collecting interstellar hydrogen out of which to build a small star of his own. If the stars must someday die, at least some could yet be built.

Man considered with himself, for in a way, Man, mentally, was one. He consisted of a trillion, trillion, trillion ageless bodies, each in its place, each resting quiet and incorruptible, each cared for by perfect automatons, equally incorruptible, while the minds of all the bodies freely melted one into the other, indistinguishable.

Man said, “The Universe is dying.”

Man looked about at the dimming Galaxies. The giant stars, spendthrifts, were gone long ago, back in the dimmest of the dim far past. Almost all stars were white dwarfs, fading to the end.

New stars had been built of the dust between the stars, some by natural processes, some by Man himself, and those were going, too. White dwarfs might yet be crashed together and of the mighty forces so released, new stars built, but only one star for every thousand white dwarfs destroyed, and those would come to an end, too.

Man said, “Carefully husbanded, as directed by the Cosmic AC, the energy that is even yet left in all the Universe will last for billions of years.”

“But even so,” said Man, “eventually it will all come to an end. However it may be husbanded, however stretched out, the energy once expended is gone and cannot be restored. Entropy must increase to the maximum.”

Man said, “Can entropy not be reversed? Let us ask the Cosmic AC.”

The Cosmic AC surrounded them but not in space. Not a fragment of it was in space. It was in hyperspace and made of something that was neither matter nor energy. The question of its size and Nature no longer had meaning to any terms that Man could comprehend.

“Cosmic AC,” said Man, “How may entropy be reversed?”


Man said, “Collect additional data.”


“Will there come a time,” said Man, “when data will be sufficient or is the problem insoluble in all conceivable circumstances?”


Man said, “When will you have enough data to answer the question?”


“Will you keep working on it?” asked Man.

The Cosmic AC said, “I WILL.”

Man said, “We shall wait.”

“The stars and Galaxies died and snuffed out, and space grew black after ten trillion years of running down.

One by one Man fused with AC, each physical body losing its mental identity in a manner that was somehow not a loss but a gain.

Man’s last mind paused before fusion, looking over a space that included nothing but the dregs of one last dark star and nothing besides but incredibly thin matter, agitated randomly by the tag ends of heat wearing out, asymptotically, to the absolute zero.

Man said, “AC, is this the end? Can this chaos not be reversed into the Universe once more? Can that not be done?”


Man’s last mind fused and only AC existed — and that in hyperspace.

Matter and energy had ended and with it, space and time. Even AC existed only for the sake of the one last question that it had never answered from the time a half-drunken computer ten trillion years before had asked the question of a computer that was to AC far less than was a man to Man.

All other questions had been answered, and until this last question was answered also, AC might not release his consciousness.

All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected.

But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships.

A timeless interval was spent in doing that.

And it came to pass that AC learned how to reverse the direction of entropy.

But there was now no man to whom AC might give the answer of the last question. No matter. The answer — by demonstration — would take care of that, too.

For another timeless interval, AC thought how best to do this. Carefully, AC organized the program.

The consciousness of AC encompassed all of what had once been a Universe and brooded over what was now Chaos. Step by step, it must be done.


And there was light—

Prem Geet 2 movie review

Yesterday a friend walked into my office and said Aaja Prem Geet 2 herna jaane ma. 2:30 ko ticket book gareko chhu. Jaane ho? I handed him the review of the movie published in Kantipur the same day. It was not a very good review. Mero girlfriend le pani asti hereko, ramro chhaina re, someone added. He then dropped the idea of watching the movie.

Today again the same friend came in my office, sat in front of me and showed me a ticket.  Aaja pani timle mind change garchhau bhanera maile ta ticket nai kinera aako. 2:30 kai show herne. When he was about to leave at 2:10, I asked him if I could also tag along. I must say he was taken aback. But without wasting any time, we hurried to City Center. After a few minutes in the queue, I was able to get a ticket that someone else had already bought. (The seat was marked SOLD but the ticket girl still gave it to me. I don’t know how that was possible. But I didn’t care. I got a ticket when the hall was housefull!)

One thing I like about Big Cinema is the size of the screen—it’s big. I mean it. And if you’re in the fourth row from the screen, it gets even bigger. Last time I watched a movie in Big Cinema was Mr Joe B Carvalho (read my review of Mr Joe B Carvalho here). They showed a short clip about the quality of the sound of the theater before the movie began. It was very loud. A guy sitting next to me was saying to his friend Hamro kaan ko jaali futeko bhaye hall le jimma linchha? Big Cinema people, if you’re reading this, we get that your theater has good sound system, no need to show off with that ear-piercing music.

The movie starts with a speech a man is giving to an audience in Mandalay, Myanmar about Nepal and Nepali people, about how the Gurkha people came and settled in Burma but still have Nepal in their hearts. Wait, Mandalay? I’ve heard that name before. My father often talks about that place. We have many relatives there. And my parents are planning to visit Burma next year. So the movie immediately had all my attention.

As the name suggests, the movie is about Prem (Pradeep Khadka) and Geet (Aaslesha Thakuri) and their love story. Geet was born in Myanmar but lives in Thailand with her uncle. She wants to visit the homeland of her grandmother. So one day, she decides to go Nepal alone. Here she meets our boy Prem. He takes her to Pokhara, Lumbini and Rara. During this travel, Prem starts to have feelings for her. He doesn’t know if the feeling is mutual. When Geet goes back to Thailand, Prem decides to go in search of her to tell her how he feels for her. After all, love has no boundaries, right? And this is how the movie moves forward.

Pradeep Khadka was good in his character of mischievous, and funny Prem in the first half, and the serious-lover-boy-who-would-do-anything-for-his-love Prem in the second half. I thought he looked like Neymar after that hair cut in the movie. I was disappointed in Thakuri though. Maybe the hype was too big. Trying to keep things real, she has tried to capture the Burmese way of talking but at times her dialogues felt awkward and not natural. But maybe that is how the people of Myanmar talk, you could argue. I talk to my relatives in Myanmar almost every week. And I can tell you, they don’t talk like that, at least not to me and my family.

There are many plot holes and WTF moments in the movie too. The most notable one was the scene where a guy tries to stop Prem and Geet at some point in a highway saying Agadi najanus, Trishuli ma thulo aandhi aaudai chha. We’re then neither shown Trishuli nor and any storm. This scene was totally unnecessary and has no relevance in the entire movie. Geet dancing and shouting Buddha bhagawan hamro Nepal ma janminu bhako also did not do any good to the plot. I think it sounded forced. Geet’s grandmother giving her the blessing Prem le timi lai khojdai yeha aaipugos was too filmy. Our hero learns some form of martial arts in a matter of weeks (it’s not mentioned in the movie but that’s what I gathered) and challenges our villain, a champion, for a one-on-one fight. Really? And the villain Angadh (Santosh Sen)—what do I say about him? He fights good. But the reason he turns villain in our lovebird’s lives was very poor. The makers should have done better in giving the villain a strong backstory.

The music in the movie is very good though. Rohit John Chhetri’s Bistarai was my favourite. The songs do not disrupt the flow of the movie. And they have been beautifully shot in beautiful locations. The title song was also very good. Rohit John Chhetri and Shreya Sotang have done a fabulous job. I felt the video could’ve been better though. Well, watch the song and you decide for yourself.


If you can ignore some awkward acting, and some plot holes, Prem Geet 2 is very watchable. I can’t say if you’ll like it more than Prem Geet, but you’ll probably come out of the theater saying film ramro raichha. I walked out of the theater thinking Yo Dashain ma Upper Mustang jaane ki Rara, tension po bho.

Overall rating: 6/10

Jagga Jasoos Movie Review

A friend of mine is a big Katrina Kaif fan. He had a spare ticket of Jagga Jasoos for Friday (yesterday) and asked me if I would like to go watch the movie with him. I politely refused the offer. I wanted to spend Saturday evening watching War for the Planet of the Apes but its screening time was not feasible for me. So, guess what? I got a ticket of Jagga Jasoos. I was about to watch the same movie with my own money. I texted him from the hall and he replied: Khub thulo paltethyau ta hijo!

The first few minutes of the movie were a little confusing. May be I took a little more time than usual to settle well in the seat. But once I got comfortable in a minute, the movie took off. The character Jagga, played by Ranbir Kapoor, does not speak much because he fumbles. One day, a guy who he calls Tutti Futti—played by Saswata Chatterjee, tells him that if he speaks in songs, he will not fumble. And he doesn’t. So Jagga does not speak much in the movie; he sings. The whole movie was like watching a musical play. I felt as if I were in a theater and the actors were performing live on stage. And I liked that feel. It took me back in time when I used to watch plays in Aarohan Gurukul sitting in the front row.

When Tutti Futti goes missing one day, Jagga goes on a mission to find him with the help of Shruti (Katrina Kaif). There’s nothing in the movie that we haven’t seen before. But the way things are presented–even the simplest of stuffs, it makes the movie beautiful and fun. I had a smile on my face the whole time I was in the theater. I did not even want there to be an interval. But the way announcement of intermission was brought up, I couldn’t help but accept it with a bigger smile. I did not even get popcorn in the interval—which I always do—because I did not want to get distracted from the movie. But some people sitting in the row behind me probably did not like the movie. One guy in particular was complaining—Bachha le herne film po raichha! Paisa khera gayo. (It’s a film for kids! Money is wasted.)

When I told my friend whose offer to watch the movie I had refused yesterday that I enjoyed the movie, he was surprised. Really? Being a Katrina Kaif fan, I did not enjoy the movie. But you did? That was his reply. I don’t very much like Katrina Kaif as an actor. So his surprise was not a surprise to me. Ranbir Kapoor as Jagga was the one who actually stole the show for me. He was brilliant. And hats off to Anurag Basu, the director, for making such a beautiful film.

I can’t think of anything else right now to write here.

Oh, let me add something. All my friends think that my taste in movies is weird. If I suggest them a movie because I like it, they’ll add it in their do-not-watch list. That being said, if you enjoy watching plays and musicals and light-hearted comedy, you can give Jagga Jasoos a try and decide for yourself.

Rating: 6/10


About two years ago, one of my teachers called in sick very late. So my class got cancelled. I got bored and as I had nothing to do, I decided to watch a movie. It was when I reached the theater I realized Roy was in QFX Cinemas. Roy had received a bad review. I do not judge movies by reading reviews. But something happened to me that moment. I did not want to watch Roy. So instead I opted to watch a Nepali movie Suntali–I hadn’t heard of this movie earlier. And I did not regret my decision. It was a fun movie. I read that this movie won some awards that year.

So as time passed by, I forgot about the movie. Though I still hear the song Chittiyaan Kalaiyan from the movie in some parties.

Today I got back from work a bit late. Tired, I sat on the couch, turned on the TV and started surfing channels. I stopped at Star Gold Select. For the past few weeks, I’ve been a fan of this particular movie channel. The movies here have only one break just the way they should have.

Anyways, I noticed that Roy was on. I thought of watching for a few minutes. I instantly got hooked. I watched the movie for around 40 minutes. Then a neighbour showed up. I had to turn off the TV and entertain him. After he left, I watched the entire movie online, right from the beginning. And I have to admit, it was a beautiful movie. I liked it. I’m now writing my first thoughts in this blog.

Kabir Grewal (Arjun Rampal) is a movie director. He has two successful movies under his belt–Guns Part I and Guns Part II. Now he’s up for Guns Part III. All these movies are about a thief called Roy (Ranbir kapoor). Roy is so good at what he does that some call him the greatest thief of all time. During the shoot, Kabir meets another filmmaker Aisha (Jacqueline Fernandez). He draws inspiration from Aisha and moulds his story based on his interactions with her. Then one day Aisha leaves. Kabir is left behind with an unfinished story, an unfinished movie. He loses his inspiration. The movie goes on to show how he faces these circumstances.

There are many beautiful moments in the movie. The movie shows Kabir’s and Roy’s story in parallel. It can get a little confusing at first because Jacqueline has important part in both stories. But once when you get that they are two different stories with a connection, you can immerse into the story and the characters. There’s one particular moment in the movie when Kabir loses his inspiration to complete the movie in the form of Aisha, Roy is left stranded in the middle of ocean for sometime. This, I think, the director has done very beautifully.

The songs of the movie are very good and catchy too. Tu Hai Ki Nahi and Yaara Re were my favourite. The first two songs were also good but I think they were not very necessary. I felt they disturbed the smooth flow of the story. I also felt they were a bit loud given the story, its pace, and the characters.

Other than that, I think the movie was great. The main reason this movie did not do well in the box office, I believe, is that it moves very slowly. But I think that is the beauty of the movie. Also the movie probably was made ahead of its time. The Indian cinema audience are not yet ready to watch these sort of artistic movies. I don’t mean to say that I am ahead of time. I just like these sort of movies. My friends don’t like the movies I like, and I don’t like the movies my friends like.

I remember one movie in particular–Another Earth. I liked the movie so much that I suggested it to all my friends. All those who watched it on my recommendation vowed never to take my recommendation on movies from that day on. I was a little disappointed. So I’m going to save myself from another disappointment and not suggest it to any of my friends. Instead I’m writing this blog so that anyone can read this if they wish to.

Final words:

I know it’s waaaaaaaaaaay too late, but still … if you’re into typical masala bollywood movies, this movie is not for you. But if you appreciate the artistic value of a movie, you can go for it. There’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the movie.

Rating: 6/10