Revisiting Mass-Energy Equivalence in Corona times (Pt. 1)

Updated: Apr 8

The two key personalities of the twentieth century Bertrand Russel and Albert Einstein may have been dissimilar in their respective professions and life-approaches but had a commonality of concern woven together in the  Russell–Einstein Manifesto that was issued in London on 9 July, 1955 by Bertrand Russell  in the midst of the Cold War. It highlighted the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and called for world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflict. The signatories also included Albert Einstein. Though his defining equation E=MC2 was not aimed to make atomic bombs per se, and create weapons of mass annihilation but it took no time to understand that this equation can also operate in "reverse". Not only does it say that mass can explode apart into energy, but energy can be squeezed tight to end up as ordinary mass. Atomic bombs of “Little Boy and Fat Man” were born and hurled respectively in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The aftermath of the same is very well known. Sanity was converted into insanity. Science had triumphed and human ego had taken a quantum leap, shifting orbits from a sporadic plane to Babylonian heights. But words of caution were also forthcoming. One particular phrase that was quoted often post the above manifesto was “Remember your humanity, and forget the rest”. Bertrand Russel had also long warned us with his wise words: Brief and powerless is man’s life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark. 


Less than 7 decades post Russel-Einstein Manifesto, humans had long forgotten cold wars and world wars, bubonic plagues, Chernobyls and malarial catastrophes. So much so that even imminent climate change signals and visible impacts are wrapped under lip-service policy discussions, hypothetical frameworks, ineffective tools, lofty SDG Indicators, and half-baked and miserly economic packages on mitigation and adaptation. We go from seminar to seminar, 5 Year plan to 5 Year Plan, one report to the next, bracing up from holiday to holiday, shifting gears from technology to technology, and finally one triumph to another. The mindset of investments and economic growth had taken over the human consciousness. Our comfort zone, freedom and individuality count to the hilt. Consequently, enough is always a bit more than what we possess mentality persists. In other words, human ego had inflated to a scale that reflected the “Super-Manish” features of World State as Controller as predicted by Aldous Huxley in his narrative of “Brave New World”. The main theme of this novel was the incompatibility of happiness and truth. We succumb to the temptation of pleasure by taking part in a world orgy where the happiness encouraged by the World State’s Controllers is a more powerful force than the truth we are seeking. The arrival of COVID 19 and its catastrophic fallout across the globe, whether implanted or transplanted nationally or globally has given us a massive scope of seeking truth collectively on our universal status. We have to accept that COVID 19 has brought human ego and its, what till few days back looked as “Iconic Image” tumbling down to “Ground Zero”. People are dying and infections are soaring, Stock markets are crashing, National development budgets and plans are stalled, holidays are busted, mutual fund returns are fatigued, and industry and economy are sinking. Is this a grim reminder that mother nature on this planet will intervene our “Rat race, time and again”? Just to re-establish the sanctity of this planet as one of the rare ones in this universe that deserves respect and care by the human species. It is very much manifested in the verses 7 and 8 of Chapter 4 of the Gita, where Lord Krishna in Mahabharata convinces the warrior Arjuna about the unavoidable battle of do or die for establishing justice and order:


Yada yada hi dharmasya glanirbhavati bharata Abhythanamadharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham Paritranaya sadhunang

Vinashay cha dushkritam Dharmasangsthapanarthay sambhabami yuge yuge!


In a way mother nature speaketh-

I am coming, I am coming, when there is a loss of universal religion (adapted: of full sanctity to mother earth), then I am coming, when the iniquity increases, then I am coming to protect the gentlemen (adapted: humans), to destroy the wicked, I am coming in to establish religion (adapted: That mother nature will prevail ultimately) and I am born in the age of era. So, the urgency of human mind-shift from Brave New World to “Sane New World” could have never been so pertinent. In Goleman’s language (2009) a boost in ecological intelligence seems essential for our species to adapt to the current challenge. We must face the ultimate truth that our planet will exist well beyond our species has vanished on it, hence it is better to reframe our mindset that planet does not belong to us but we belong to it. Hence need to revisit our relationship with it. That the mother nature has healed itself and can always bounce back is visible from the news items across the globe (e.g. Mega-cities can see the shining moon after decades of air pollution; Mountains are visible even from hundreds of kilometres, wildlife is roaming freely on fast-track highways, and more birds are chirping in our backyards than ever). Let us take COVID 19 phenomena as an intermission of our rat-race! Whether the vermin of COVID has emerged from wild animals or from pet animals, does not matter now. We have to acknowledge that we need to take actions that heal our race and probably sets the development paradigm for future.


Hence let us revisit the E=MC2 phenomena. If E stood for energy, then truly our Panch Tattvas (The Eternal 5 elements of Universe: Water, Fire, Earth, Air and Ether) are Eternal (representing the Eternity/E). In simple meaning, universe does not need us and our ego, and will exist eternally as energy is eternal though it may be interchangeable in different forms. The m (Mass) should stand for Mother Earth, as this mix of 5 elements was the motor behind the life on our planet. So, we have one and only one mother earth. Finally, C2 would in the new equation stress multi-fold on the need of conservation (e.g. of our resources, the way we live, the stuff we eat, illegal wildlife trade we do, the way we squander, individualism we propagate, and egos and behaviours we nurture). In a nutshell, if we do not give unremitting respect for our planet, and be balanced out in conservation and development then humans will not be eternal but the planet will be, and it will heal itself without us. It is this arrogance and inflated ego we as human race has to shun and act upon individually with collective outcome. Individualism must be backed by social collectivism. We have achieved so much positive as human race which is beyond all precedent. We are faced with a lone choice: either we shall degrade ourselves further and eternally suffer, or we regroup ourselves and redefine common sense. A great deal of new political thinking will be necessary if utter disaster and anguish for our future generation is to be averted. The writing is on the wall. The global sense so far is that we will have bitter pills to swallow but we will also come up with sanity and sense of purpose, and inclusivity of solutions which must include “Behavioral Changes and Deflated Egos”. It is time for collectivism beyond borders, and who can tray it better than the most evolved species of this planet? (More in Part II).


-Rajan

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