Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sherlock, Moriarty and the Obliquity of the Ecliptic

Neptune is a rather interesting planet. Unlike all the other planets that were discovered using telescopes while looking for bright moving objects in the night sky; Neptune's existence was mathematically predicted using pen and paper by the French Mathematician Le Verrier. 

Actually, Neptune which at the time of its discovery in 1845 was the farthest planet in the solar system had previously been recorded on numerous occasions by different astronomers but was considered a fixed star instead of a planet, a result of rather peculiar coincidences. 

It could only be discovered when scientists and astronomers couldn't explain the motion of Uranus using the existing Gravitational laws that otherwise worked perfectly while predicting the orbits of the rest of the planets. This inconsistency led some scientists to question the veracity of Newton's laws of Motion and Gravitation over such large distances, it led others to conclude that there must be a large "perturbing body" nearby influencing the orbit of Uranus by the virtue of its own gravitational pull. 

In culmination of these discussions, a paper published by Le Verrier hypothised the existence of another planet along with its Mass and orbit. 

However, like everything else about Neptune, even its mathematical discovery was wrought with controversy. The British astronomer John Couch Adams, around a year before Le Verrier, calculated the location of this new planet. He then wrote to the Royal Astronomical Society where he mentioned its calculated Mass and radius of Orbit, for it to be observed using a telescope. But alas, because of the time it took the British in processing his discovery, Le Verrier had been declared as the Discoverer of Neptune. And, of course, he did write a paper for the Royal Astronomical Society on the “Obliquity of the Ecliptic”.

“It was Adams, of course. Murderous jealousy. He had written a paper for the Royal Astronomical Society on the Obliquity of the Ecliptic, and then read another one that seemed to surpass it.”

Ring any bells?

That’s an inconspicuous reference to “The Greek Interpreter” in the last episode of the TV series Sherlock- The Abominable Bride when Mycroft Holmes explains to Sherlock the motive behind the murder in a case. But in doing so, it did go a bit far ahead.

Obliquity of the Ecliptic is the angle between the plane of Earth's orbit and the equatorial plane. Its significance comes from the fact that it is the cause of different seasons in a year. There are indeed a few points of convergence that lead us toward this being an important theme in the series. For example, according to the books, Professor Moriarty was an accomplished mathematician famous for his treatise on “The Dynamics of an Asteroid”. Now, the prevalent Titius-Bode law proposed in 1760s accurately defined the orbits of all the known planets in the solar system when calculated in Astronomical Units (multiples of Earth's distance from Sun) save one discrepancy, that it predicted the presence of an additional body between these two planets. This was later verified as the Asteroid Belt between the two planets. Interestingly, the first time the Tituis Bode law came into question and was disproved was after the discovery of Neptune by Le Verrier's calculations, whose position in the Solar system didn't conform to this law.

Additionally, a friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred Drayson, did indeed write a paper on the Obliquity of the Ecliptic with predictions contrary to the established notions. And the person whose theory proved Drayson wrong happens to be Simon Newcomb, an astronomer widely believed to be the inspiration behind Moriarty. Also of interest is the fact that Newcomb was married to a certain Mary Caroline Hassler, daughter of a US Navy surgeon, Dr. Charles Augustus Hassler.

This amidst talk of Astronomy being the least of Sherlock's concerns!

I must confess that ever since I watched that episode, the one thing that has been constantly on my mind is “The Obliquity of the Ecliptic”, and not unlike Sherlock, who having already been in deep waters while wading through the Mind Palace tells Watson that he needed to trudge deeper still to formulate a theory. In the very next scene, he tells Lestrade that he needs to understand the “Obliquity of the Ecliptic” as it is a matter of supreme importance even as Lestrade keeps referring to the Bride murders. Later, Sherlock and John Watson are seen going to the Diogenes Club to meet “someone cleverer than you”. Mycroft elaborates that Adams had written a paper for the Royal Astronomical society on the “Obliquity of the Ecliptic”, and then read another one that seemed to surpass it; implying that Adams had murdered his peer as a result of jealousy in the Manor House case. So, while there is no further talk on the significance of the Obliquity of the Ecliptic, Mycroft does leave Sherlock with an explanation of murderous jealousy “It is no easy thing for a great mind to contemplate a still greater one”.

I found myself getting engulfed in this oblique reference. On the face of it, this seems like a mere continuation of the brotherly banter prevalent in the series. But it is possible, that Mycroft might be suggesting to Sherlock that he must first understand the reason for the murderous jealousy that is, why Moriarty wanted him dead, and how Sherlock may not have yet been able to fully grasp the extent of Moriarty's grand schemes.

It has been established in Season 3, almost as an afterthought, that Sherlock relies on Mycroft while solving cases inside his Mind palace. So, while it is Still Sherlock solving it; the guiding light, at least in his head is Mycroft. The conclusion about “Murderous Jealousy” being the motive behind a certain murder coming from Mycroft was I believe the primary take away from the episode.

In the possible context of John Adams, perhaps Sherlock has realized that instead of looking for Neptune (read death of Moriarty using Emilia Ricoletti's case as reference) in the night sky using a telescope, it is better to look at the disturbances in the path of Uranus (read Events before and after the death of Moriarty) to solve the mystery behind Moriarty's resurrection. Or it is just that we are about to get more details into the Manor House case where Moriarty was somehow involved.

In any case, I searched the net and found three worthy Adams. The first one of course was John Couch Adams. Out of the three, I dug the deepest into his life. I went so far as to find out the cause of death of both Le Verrier and John Couch Adams in a bid to find out if indeed “murderous jealousy” played any part. LOL.

 The second one was the British Philosopher Adam Smith. Out of the many essays and books that he wrote, “The History of Astronomy” is perhaps the most out of place for an economist and political thinker. There of course is a reference to the Obliquity of the Ecliptic in this book, but it doesn’t seem to connect any dots. What did catch my eye though is the repeated reference to “The invisible hand of Jupiter” meant more in mythological terms rather than astronomical ones. It seemed to match with how someone like Moriarty might operate, subtly and discreetly guiding all the pieces on the chessboard towards his ultimate goal.

The third one was the second US President John Adams. Incidentally, he had also been deeply involved in improving US relations with the British, and had indeed spent quite a lot of time in England. Another fun fact, John Adams was a great admirer of the Free market policies suggested by Adam Smith in his book “Wealth of Nations”, which he later implemented during his presidency. Another fun fact that I found out later is that Margaret Thatcher (Thatcher was revealed as a clue to the first episode, now titled “The Six Thatchers” in an apparent nod to “The Six Napoleons”) along with the US president John Adams and the progenitor of those ideas, Adam Smith are considered as the torchbearers of the Free market economic policies. However, I feel that The Six Thatchers shall have more to do with the IRA and the attempts on Thatcher’s life than Obliquity of the Ecliptic or  Adam Smith.

Now, we must understand that Sherlock while in his mind palace was trying to solve the mystery behind Moriarty’s return. There are two ways of looking at this. 

The first, there were some hints already running through Sherlock's mind that he wanted to analyze further. The mysterious death of Emelia Ricoletti that had similar elements as Moriarty's apparent resurrection was one of the reasons for this elaborate Victorian construct. The second, even being his talented self, it is not always possible to take control of everything that happens in one’s dreams. So, while he tried to recreate Victorian London, it is possible that certain events from the real life manifest themselves in his dream. In which case, all these references to Adams or Astronomy are mere noise in the data.

Now to my theories. First, I believe that Moriarty is alive and well. 

Second, we haven’t really seen Moriarty.

If anyone has ever read the books, they would know that Professor Moriarty is a middle-aged Mathematics teacher who prefers to keep away from spotlight. The TV version, while truly sinister, is poles apart from Doyle’s version breaking in and stealing the crown jewels or standing accused in courtroom trials. So, I feel the person we were made to think was Moriarty is actually, just an actor Richard Brook hired by the real Moriarty as he successfully claimed in public. Make some of it right, and people assume the entire narrative as true. 

And do you now see the apparent connection to Emelia Ricoletti? Other people posing as the presumed dead Bride to commit murders. Why is it not possible for Moriarty to use Richard Brook as a pawn, first to try and destroy Sherlock out of "Murderous Jealousy". And when his scheme failed, introduce Charles Augustus Magnussun to take on Sherlock, and just after Magnussun is killed, resurrect the dead Moriarty to cause terror and confusion.  In fact, Richard Brook might be the equivalent of his henchman Sebastian Moran who did all the leg work while Moriarty directed from behind the stage. What if there are actually a number of such Richard Brooks out there, working/posing as Moriarty in a vast Criminal syndicate?

The virus in the data was never Moriarty. It may have been Richard Brook and Magnussun

Friday, August 7, 2015

Misleading Birthday Wishes

Birthdays bring a smile on all our faces, don't they? Well, by the end of this article, that won't be the case anymore!

A long and happy life, that is the basic idea behind birthday wishes.

Happiness is difficult to quantify unless you are living in Bhutan (which has a Happiness index of its own).

That's not the case with Longevity. That particular bit could be quantified by the number of years one lives.

We all remember this famous song from our childhood days:

Tum Jiyo Hazaron Saal, Saal ke Din Hon Pachas Hazar!

For the benefit of my foreign readers, it is a B'day wish that translates to "May you live a thousand years, and may each of those years have Fifty thousand days"

Perhaps the innocence of a song sung in chorus did not sound alarm bells ringing in our minds. But recently I realized the sinister hidden meaning behind it.

So, one day on my way to office, I came across a giant hoarding congratulating a local politician on the occasion of his Birthday. Beside a smiling picture of the birthday boy was written this same B'day wish with photos of goon-like flunkies and supposed well-wishers adorning the remaining poster cum B'day card.

At first glance, I let it go as just an attempt by this guy's flunkies to aggrandize their leader in front of the general public and in the process keep themselves in his good books.

But as the days passed, this hoarding began to haunt me as I came across it wherever I went. And one fateful day, I realized the sinister meaning behind it and that is what I am about to share with you all.

PART-1: Tum Jiyo Hazaron Saal (May you live a thousand years)

Now let's get it straight, this B'day wish is basically asking for the subject's immortality. Such an eventuality might make this person happy for himself. I mean it does look cool to see the advent of human civilization over the course of an entire millennium!

But there's a catch. Wishing for immortality puts one in the company of notorious fictional villains such as Lord Voldemort, Darth Sidious, Tamraj Kilvish and whatnot! Being a part of such a list is bad for any person's reputation and goodwill among the voters right?

Now I reach the second part of the Birthday wish which makes it even more sinister and makes me wonder whether all these "well-wishers" are really what they seem or secret RSS functionaries out to ruin the poor congressman's life! The second part in fact makes me question the Humanity behind it all!

PART-2: Saal Ke Din Ho Pachas Hazar (May each of those years have 50000 days)

On the face of it, this seems like an instrument to provide a further decisive push for the subject's immortality. I calculated and it comes out to Fifty million days (that's seven zeroes!). In contrast, the lifespan of an average human being is 70 years which turns out to a measly 25550 days.

But being myself, I gave it deeper thought and realized there is a secret message inside that everyone has been ignoring.

I checked Wikipedia and found out that while Uranus, the seventh planet in our solar system has 30000 Earth days in an year, while the eighth planet Neptune takes 60000 Earth days  to complete one revolution around the Sun.

So basically, these back-stabbing gentlemen want our poor fellow to live a near eternal life circling the sun somewhere in the emptiness between two planets far far away from the hustle and bustle of human civilization. But as soon as he finds himself at this location, the vacuum of outer space shall make his body swell and his lungs to explode as a result of the relatively higher blood pressure of 1 atmosphere inside, just before he suffocates himself to death due to a lack of oxygen!

But since these clever people have put the clause of immortality out in the open, this guy shall have to endure great endless pain just as gravity goes about its work.

Being so far away from the dominant pull of the Sun, he will be forced to make a parabolic entry into Neptune's atmosphere which is predominantly filled with Hydrogen and Helium and crash land on a surface composed of crystallized Ammonia and Methane with temperatures ranging to the lows of -150 Degrees Celsius.That doesn't sound like a great place to be spending a thousand years!

So, should this B'day wish come true, the poor man shall live out the rest of his eternal life in obscurity, at the fringes of the solar system gazing at 14 different moons orbiting Neptune and a nearly star like sun.

In conclusion, in all my kindness and foresightedness, I have come up with a more humane wish.

Tum Jiyo "an appropriately suitable number of years", Saal mein din rahein 365, aur Tum roj khao ek Raj Kachori!

That is:

"May you live an appropriately suitable number of years, May the year have just 365 days, and May you get to gorge on a Raj Kachori (a delightful Indian snack) every other day"


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fightalot Thinkalot Smilealot

Once upon a time, there was a Great kingdom. It was ruled by the honorable and just King Greatalot. The people in his kingdom lived happy, prosperous and peaceful lives.

The king had three sons: Fightalot, Thinkalot and Smilealot.

The king loved all three of his sons equally but as he grew old, he started worrying about who should be his heir. He couldn't decide who could be the better king.

He discussed this issue with his council of ministers, and concluded that the three princes should be tested for their ability to rule. It was decided that each of the three princes would be given 3 months to rule the kingdom. The king and the council of ministers would observe their rule closely and decide on the future heir of the kingdom by the end of the year.

Being the eldest one, the first chance was given to Prince Fighalot.

Now, before we go further into the story, we need to know more about our first candidate. Prince Fighalot was born in the initial years of King Greatalot's reign. His developing years were spent watching his father strategize and ruthlessly fight through scores of battles, winning wars and conquering new territories. Obviously all this had a strong impact on the prince's personality. He grew up to become a fierce fighter and an expert swordsman much admired by the military generals and the Kingdom's armed forces.

So, within three days, the new King Fightalot soured relations with neighboring states. Within three weeks, he decided to mount an attack on one of these states that had otherwise had peaceful relations with our great Kingdom. Fightalot inspired his army of soldiers by taking to the front lines and through his clever strategies. Though he won after 6 weeks of ferocious battle, the kingdom lost a lot of men to the war, attracted thousands of refugees from the defeated state and left the economy in tatters.

The next chance was given to Prince Thinkalot.

Now Prince Thinkalot was brought up during the consolidating years of the kingdom. The King spent most of his time holed up in a room discussing trade and economic policy with his council of ministers. Obviously, this had an impact on the developing prince. He became an introvert, spending his days learning about finances and other policies.

The new King Thinkalot spent most of his days and nights holed up inside the palace. Only a select few ministers and traders were occasionally invited to meetings that would go on for hours and hours on end.  He was as such perceived to be authoritarian king, ruling through a small coterie of advisers, and for all purposes invisible to the people at large.

Even so, by the end of his third month, the economy of the kingdom had started showing strong signs of revival, ambassadors had been sent to neighboring states to placate and reassure them of the king's peaceful stand, and work had been started towards rehabilitation of those affected by the war.

The last contender for the throne was Prince Smilealot.

Prince Smilealot grew up in the years of prosperity. The king had started working on improving relations with neighboring states. There were lots of parties, summits and festivals that were celebrated with gusto throughout the kingdom.

As such King Smilealot became very popular with the general public very fast. Riding high on the strengthened economy left by his predecessor, he lowered the taxes, visited the neighboring states, showered gifts and freebies for all. It was as if there were a party everyday! By the end of his third month, though the economy had started to stagnate, the new king had won over the people and the neighboring kingdoms with his charm.

Even as King Greatalot and his council of ministers began to mull over who should be the next king, Greatalot's health began to deteriorate. Unfortunately, the king died without naming the heir to the Great Kingdom...

A few hours after the King's death, a large fire breathing dragon came out of nowhere, and the entire kingdom was burnt to ashes leaving all its inhabitants dead...



LOL..Just kidding, leave out the "Dragon and the Kingdom burning to ashes" part...

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Power Of The Malfoys

The power he didn't have a freaking idea of: The Power of the Malfoys

Lucius Malfoy set in a comfy leather chair at the front of his desk inside his giant mansion, pouring over the Financial Reports of Malfoy Inc. for the last financial year.

"Hmmm..One Million galleons profit after taxes. Now, we give away 60,000 galleons to the Pure Blood Rights organisation, 45000 to the Fudge for Minister campaign..".

"But father, why are you giving so much money to these pure blood activists? They can't do any good! Should not we be giving all of this gold to You Know Who instead who can actually do something good for Pure bloods?

"And risk spending the rest of my life rotting in Azkaban? Are you stupid, boy? And do you really think there is a vault at Gringotts in the name of Lord Voldemort?"

Draco shook his head blankly.

"The Pure Blood Rights organisation and many others are just legible fronts for You Know Who to recieve funds for his campaign. You Know Who is a nameless entity that exists at the fringes of the wizarding world. He is not recognised by the Ministry, he doesn't have civil rights or duties, no citizenship or social security. For all practical purposes, there is no Lord Voldemort. That's why he can do anything he wants. There is a difference you know. Anyone could kill him on the street and nobody will care. How can you kill someone who doesn't exist on paper. They can't do that with me or you, or even your Aunt Bellatrix."

"But he is so powerful! He can easily take over the whole world and then, he will reward us,"sweared Draco indignantly.

"He was powerful the last time too. In fact more powerful than he is now. What did he achieve? See, where it got him. Power means nothing. Life is all about money and continuity. If you have enough resources and you live long enough, there is no need for power. It is just a consequence of money."

"Then why do you support him?", asked Draco.

Because I have no other choice. The Malfoys have been supporting Pure blood rights activists since ages. Sometimes, a person comes along who is a bit more violent. If we pull our hands away at this moment we risk being ridiculed or even harmed by the new dark lord. So, we spend money on their campaigns and find ways to earn what we can through their influence.

"How do you earn from you know who?", asked Draco disbelievingly.

"How do you think the next target of the Death Eaters is planned? Nothing happens randomly. It just happens that a certain potion manufacturer who also happens to be our primary competitor is suddenly attacked by the dark lord to send a message to the wizarding world, this creates a sudden scarcity, and fuels prices. And the murder of the owner of Nimbus Sports by dark forces for allegedly making comments in favor of the Muggleborns, which for some unrelated reason is immidiately bought by a Singaporean company in which Malfoy Recreations holds the majority stake! Things don't just happen!"

"But what will you do if by any chance, the dark lord is defeated?" asked Draco.

"Excellent question, my boy!", exclaimed Lucius. "If the dark lord wins, we shall indeed exert immense influence over the entire wizarding world. I may even become the next Minister of Magic. If he loses, I shall make a large donation to the ministry for reconstruction, and this money will in turn come back to us in multiples through Ministry contracts to Malfoy realty."

"Many Dark lords have come and gone, and many more are yet to come. But they either die through defeat or if they do win, they die out of boredom. Heroes like Potter and Dumbledore are too unambitious and careless to rule."

"The thing is, the result of this war doesn't matter to me any more. Whoever comes in power, my aim is for us to be the richest wizarding family in the whole of Britain and by extension the entire Europe. Malfoys, at the end of the day, are the only real constants in the wizarding world..."

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Power He Didn't Have A Freaking Idea Of-Part IV

The Desolation of Lord Voldemort

“Our slippery friend has betrayed us for the last time.”

Lord Voldemort hadn't really cared about public opinion until now. Usually a simple Crucio here, an off-hand Imperio there or the odd Avada Kedavara would do the trick. Nor had he had to worry about funds required to influence Ministry officials, buy out Vampire, Werewolf or Giant clans, monetarily compensating his rapidly expanding Death Eater Army or maintaining his Dark Lord Headquarters at the Malfoy Manor what with the generosity of Lucius Mallfoy looking to gain favor when his dear master came to power.

As he sat at the edge of a long abandoned, dilapidated East European town with his measly army of five death eaters, Lord Voldemort wondered how his fortunes changed so quickly.

Things happened fast overnight after news of his "fake" meeting with the muggle Dark lord Narendra Modi broke out. At first, it was just the token opposition of the Order members and half-blood activists.

But after Malfoy's interview, things changed quickly. Within two hours, two-thirds of his death eater army had either abandoned him or died at the end of his wand as he tried to discipline them. By noon, he had been labelled a fugitive by the Ministry of Magic, a first for any Dark Lord with a bounty of a Hundred Thousand Galleons for his head!

By evening, Lucius Malfoy had formed a political party intending to fight the upcoming elections for Minister of Magic!

“There is only one way I can regain my lost honor, and that I shall do by eliminating this muggle dark lord.”

"My Lord, I shall be more than happy to kill that stupid muggle. Just give me the orders", Bellatrix, ever so eager to indulge in physical violence stood up with eagerness.

"Unlike you, the dark lord is not a fool Bellatrix. Though he recognizes the tempt of such an attack, he realizes the enormous risk involved in such an endeavor. Not only does such an action risk exposing the wizarding world to the muggles, but this muggle is flanked by fifty gunmen. Before you could apparate and draw out your wand Bellatrix, you would be dead from their bullets. Our shield charms won't work on their ammunition."

Ah, Severus. Sometimes he wondered how come this man ended up as his flunky. It must be a severe lack of ambition. Or perhaps low self esteem. Extremely low self esteem actually. The guy is a bloody genius!

"Severus, my friend, you have been with me far too long. Yes, as much as the prospect of killing this dark lord excite me, I know that it is an adventure that we must avoid for now."

"I believe my lord, that you should go off to a far away place, and bide your time in anonymity until a suitable opportunity comes to strike again. I shall forever look out for you my Lord, but I feel now is not the time to wage a war," opined Severus.

And with those fateful words of Severus Snape began the Desolation of the Dark Lord.

They hunted him everywhere. From Africa, though the Himalayas, all the way to Siberia where the Dark Lord stood today, at the edge of a cliff ready to jump to his doom...

Only that doom won't come. There will only be pain from broken limbs...excruciating pain. For he could only be killed by Harry Potter alone, and the godforsaken kid had renounced all violence. The boy now eternally surrounded by a bevy of fangirls and packs of gold had turned Gandhi on him!

And in the process, he condemned the most feared Dark Lord on the planet to a miserable life worse than the death he once feared! In contrast, even that Muggle Dark Lord, the fake meeting with whom brought about his downfall was about to be crowned the Prime Minister of India!

A smile appeared on his cold face as he jumped. A loud shriek emanated through the isolated valley after a few seconds...


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This is no rocket science!

I don't understand the Congress party's deep rooted aversion to Rocket Science...

I mean, a progressive party that ponders over poverty issues through the prism of extra-terrestrial escape velocities, should be embracing rocket science...

Even as the young congress worker glorifies Rocket science as some sort of an unattainable virtue, whose complexity continues to elude her;

She did succeed in breaking my delusions that governing a country or choosing a prime-ministerial candidate required knowledge of basic high school level physics...

After all, poverty alleviation is all about putting poor people on rockets and sending them into outer space in order to help them attain greater "heights", something I hadn't quite imagined in this context!

As the title says, this post is no rocket science :P

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Aam Admi Party: The Justice League of Indian Politics

The Aam Admi Party is like the Justice League in the Indian political landscape; a loose collection of masked crusaders and caped vigilantes out to fight evil.

Obviously, when you are a part of such an iconic group, you automatically wish to stand out.

Now, the Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are fairly safe with their awesome superpowers. They enjoy a constant, enviable fan-following. Even Green Lantern and Flash make do.

But life gets difficult for people like Aquaman and Green Arrow.

These lesser vigilantes, being the vast silent majority of the Justice League, find it hard to find suitable villains (in quantity and quality) on a daily basis, and fearing getting lost in the din, in their restlessness, they have to make do with random law enforcement officers or even non-entities like the broader scheme of things.

Afterall, what upcoming villain would want to go down in front of Aquaman in his maiden fight? Going down against Superman shall at least bring in some notoriety and recognition.

At times, they must resort to gimmicks to gain publicity. 

Moreover, being vigilantes, they see everything in Black and White; so basically, you are either a ''Guardian of the City'' like them, or you ought to have done something wrong somewhere, and you're gonna pay for it big time!

The best way to live in such a city is to move around in a cape yourself...

In the Indian scenario, that cape is the Aam Admi cap, the traditional Jhadu serving as the weapon of choice...

So, support AAP, be a Hero!

Note: All images have been procured from Google search results without taking proper permissions. Just for your information :D