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The universe within!

Huzaima Bukhari

“The human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10 thousand other neurons. Sitting on your shoulders is the most complicated object in the known universe”—Michio Kaku, Professor of theoretical physics in the City College of New York, USA

What a delightful feeling it is to hear the first cry of a new-born baby! How exciting it is for the parents to hold their offspring in their arms and how comforting for the mother who forgets the immense pain she went through to bring a human being in this world—happiness and anxiety welded together with a responsibility that would be spread across one’s lifetime. Such is the mechanism of procreation. Man is born and man dies and the gap between these two extremes is filled with all that he is capable of. A good part of his existence is spent in pursuit of a respectable living, initially as a child and then as an adult with the typical rigmarole of a family struggling to make both ends meet.

In majority cases, man is happy with a moderate education or an acquired skill that can help him to earn some money. Much as anyone would like, there is limited time that can be dedicated to learning in the true sense of the word. However, hours spent in activities like shopping, socializing, mere loitering, gossiping etc. are hardly considered wasted

Obviously, this leaves a very small percentage of those human minds that aspire to devote their lives to scholarship and the more they delve into the depths of knowledge the more their yearning to learn more increases because a peculiar feature of knowledge is that its boundaries keep on expanding as one progresses further. Gathering, storing and consolidating the wealth of information is quite an uphill task which few are capable of handling. Such people have been mystified by the universe around them. The sun, moon, stars, galaxies, the planets and all that exist on this earth, have kept eternally ablaze their passion to learn and research.

Since times immemorial, studies and experiments have dominated man’s mind leading to theories and amazing discoveries that continue to unravel more and more electrifying secrets of this boundless universe yet the thirst for knowledge remains insatiable. The external world keeps mesmerizing forcing scholars to relentlessly pursue wisdom and stay steadfast on their quest to attaining knowledge no matter how perilous the path may be, The likes of Galileo have had to suffer persecution on account of their theories termed heretical by those who mattered in the land. Despite all odds, various kinds of theories have continued to evolve over the centuries and even today researches in all spheres of learning remain inconclusive.

Although there is no end to it, scholars keep on searching, researching, experimenting, theorizing and those who have the capabilities convert their work into reality. Thus, the many missions to the Moon and Mars, launching of satellites, the Hubble telescope, Discovery, Voyager and New Horizons expeditions. Then all the very expensive experiments carried out in the bowels of the earth and depths of the ocean. The whole universe is spread out like a book, the pages of which are constantly being read, translated and deciphered in an endless pursuit of arriving at concrete answers.

The immense vastness of the universe that has beguiled man may be nothing compared to the universe that exists within his own body. Miles and miles of veins, complicated network of nerves, multitude of cells (not visible to the naked eye) having a nucleus as its control centre, and above all, the brain, responsible for multiple functions managing every little bit that makes up our physique. The highest level of sensitivity with which it is adorned is matchless. Whereas brain is compared to artificial intelligence but the former still has an edge as it can process a lot more information than the fastest computers. In fact the complexity of the entire internet has been compared to a single human brain. Many consider this statement as unbelievable but the truth is that while computers far exceed the human brain in smartness-oriented activities, brain is better at parallel processing and sorting information. Although technology might overcome the ability but at this point of time a brain is around 100,000 times more energy-efficient than computers.

As far as memory is concerned, the composition of the human body again takes precedence. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or the information storing unit present in each of the six trillion cells has the capacity to hold more data in a minuscule space than any digital memories as of today. According to one estimate, all the information on every computer in 2015 coded onto DNA could “fit in the back of an SUV”. An added capability is the longevity of a DNA that can survive for millions of years.

With all its beauty and splendor, the universe outside the human body working on the basis of laws of nature, lacks one thing—soul—which is an essential element of the universe inside the body. Even a person, who owns this universe both in its physical and metaphysical form, may not be able to fathom its depths, being preoccupied by life’s distractions. A plunge inside one’s universe could prove to be a journey full of pleasant and perhaps shocking surprises as one comes face to face with one’s self. Many new revelations may be the beginning of transformation from a mere human to a more humane self if only one can find the conviction to embark upon this salvation voyage. Scholars and researchers love to explore and conquer space and the universe like portrayed in the Star Trek series but while sitting here, refrain from confronting the universe within. Is it because we are afraid to admit what Isaac Newton concluded:

All variety of created objects which represent order and life in the universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, whom I call the ‘Lord God‘.


The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)

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