Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Least Count Syndrome....

No.  This has nothing to do with elections, faulty EVM's  and the like.

But something more basic.  




Way back, 50 years ago, when I was in 9th grade, I remember starting on Physics as a separate subject in school, as opposed to a bouquet of scientific subjects cobbled together as "General Science". A sense of having come up in the world consequent  to now attending these classes , unlike earlier, in a special spiffy  lab, the year began with an "introduction to measurements"  and put forth the concept of Least Count.

It wasn't rocket science, it wasn't new, but it gave a name to something we instinctively knew.  Every instrument that measured something  had a minimum measurement which it could do with great accuracy. That defined a "least count"  of that instrument.  For example, a scale or ruler marked only in integer centimetres, would never measure things in millimetres accurately.  

And so you had the world, the measuring instrument, and the answers. For different scales of measurement , clearly, there were different measuring methods, ranging from micrometres, verniers, mileage measuring methods, to spectroscopy, audiometres etc etc. Each did excellently on its own, but would probably go haywire if used for something it as not supposed to measure.

We as humans, measure the world around us in various ways.  Eyes, ears,  A sense of touch.   Sometimes, the measuring is more complex, where something is observed by us, and analyzed and reacted to, by our brains.

For many years, I have felt, that every human body, as a machine is blessed with a unique least count.  It can be defined as an optimum level of information showering, that brings a level of comfort as we seek a conclusion or solution from it.

5 decades ago, there were no mobile phones. Heck, our first rotary phone happened when i was in 8th grade. Many times , particularly in rain storms, it would be dead, thanks to entaglements of branches in wires and so on.  When you interacted with anyone on the phone, and then the people were unreachable, you calmly waited for them to appear in person, or maybe call back on their own; sometimes a half a day would go by before folks started getting into a panic mode.  Everyone did not have phones, and so life was lead with a sense of optimistic belief in things.  In crunch situations , the phone, regardless of ownership was available to whoever needed it .

Today, we have mobile phones, cell phones, pagers , etc etc. The ability of the phone to move with the user, has meant that you get almost minute to minute updates from whoever you are tracking.  There are things like Twitter and other social media , where people post in real times about situations. For the person on whom all this information impinges,  it is like an avalanche. 

An inability to reach someone traveling alone, phones being announced as unreachable, switched off etc,  bring horrifying visions to mind, thanks to what we see in the news these days.  

You start off for the airport, and read Twitter updates about traffic and jams on the Mumbai flyovers, and you agonize endlessly about missing flights, missing exams, and deadlines.

You see 'n'  missed calls from someone you haven't seen for a while, and you start imagining things.

It isn't terribly clear, that the human body can handle such an onslaught optimally. In the sense that something has to give. 

We were a society, that was not clobbered with so much data, but thougtfully chewed upon and analysed and digested what was on offer, and sensibly came to conclusions.  The speed with which we constantly measured events was in consonance with what the brain/mind was designed for, optimally.  And so, back then, you never heard of psychiatric treatments, anxiety and panic syndromes, depressions etc in daily life. Yes, there were patients, but it was more of a physiological affliction.

The human body, I think, as a measurer, has a certain least count.  The avalanche of information has to match that interval.  Then it leads or might lead , to a meaningful answer or interpretation , in conclusion. 

Today, we live a life of palpitations with more than 100 news sources drowning us in an avalanche,   sms's and Whatsapp  forwards add the chutney and the pickle,  and anxiety and panic syndromes are the order of the day.  The body/brain/mind  is unable to measure things smaller than a certain optimum size and come to gainful conclusions.   And so there are random, kneejerk results,   that show up in a messed up physiology and chemistry of the body.  Stress rules, and diseases follow. 

They always advise you exercises and meditation etc.  It probably serves to reorganize, and finalize concretely the least count of your body machine , so you can face the world better.


Having said all this, Google Glass came to mind.    

Clearly ,   I give up. 

On second thoughts, No,  Thank you.

I already have glasses of my own....... 

1 comment:

  1. Too much information has spoiled us I guess. Those old days of rotary phones must have been so peaceful.