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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Atheist Blogger Hacked to Death

Atheist and liberal blogger Avijit Roy who wrote against religious extremism and promoted rationalism, science and skepticism was hacked to death by a mob of unidentified attackers.  It is believed that he was attacked by Muslim extremists who were upset at his criticism against Islamic extremism.

Roy and his wife had attended the Ekushey Book Fair and were attacked at the Teacher Student Center intersection at Dhaka University.  Two of the attackers dragged them to the pavement and began hacking them with machetes.  Avijit was hit hard on the head while his wife was slashed on her shoulders and lost her finger.  Both were immediately taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, but Avijit passed at about 10 PM local time while his wife survived the attack.  Roy was previously threatened for his views, but continued posting them on his blog despite the threats.

Roy was the son of a physicist and himself earned a masters and doctorate degree in Mechanical  and Biochemical Engineering.  He wrote several essays online and published books on his views on disbelief and his criticism of faith as a “virus.” Many students and fellow liberals took to the streets protesting the violent act and attempt to silence dissenting views.

This story is disturbing and is a reminder of the extremism that is taking hold now, not just in religion but also in liberalism, secularism and atheism.  There are people out there who are so insecure in their views and beliefs that they need to silence their opposition even by means of violence.  When will it end?  People are entitled to their views and should not be afraid to express them even if their views are not that which the majority hold or are not popular.  I extend my condolences to Avijit’s family. Let us pray for peace and tolerance.







Blue, Gold, White Dress

There has been a commotion online with a dress which is confusing people in regards to its color. Some see the dress as white/gold and blue/black while others see it as blue/gold.  The dress has caused debate and even distress among people who have viewed it.

The human eye is an extraordinary organ.  It can register millions of colors via its components and the processing done by the brain.  Light enters the eyes via the cornea which focuses the light along with the lens which has what are called ciliary muscles which alter the lens in order to help distinguish the distance of objects.  The amount of light that enters is controlled by the iris which is the part of the eye that has color.  It opens or contracts based on the intensity of the light trying to enter.

Once the light enters these structures, it passes through the vitreous humor which is the inside of the eye and is composed of a jelly textured tissue, almost like that of a jellyfish. After this, it touches the retina which is a thin three-layered structure that absorbed the light.  Within the retina are millions of cells called rods and cones. These structures distinguish light patterns and their colors.  The rods work mostly in low light conditions and the cones detect color and details in objects being looked at by the eye.

Amazing right?

Many psychologists and philosophers have tried to figure out what perception is.  Wittgenstein was one of them.  He studied what we call illusions and posited that what we see and how we interpret them is based not only on stimuli from what we are looking at, but also how we think and how our minds are set up based on upbringing or experience.

In most cases, this is true. Our brains often take “short cuts” when processing information by relying on previous information and creating a biased interpretation of new information based on that old one. This is called representativeness heuristics. However, in the case of this dress. People are seeing it in different colors because there were three different versions of it floating around in the cyber world. The reason the dress looked different was because the brightness and contrast were altered. If you look at the three photos of the dress, you will notice that the background gets distorted.

This is because the brightness and contrasted were changed.  Because our eyes work with light and light is what contains color, then any alteration of brightness and contrast will change the color tone and how our eyes will interpret this new change.  There is nothing magical regarding this dress nor is it some illusion.  Someone simply changed the brightness and contrast and made two versions of the original image with these changes.  Depending on what version of the image you saw gave the appearance that the dress was “x” color.

The original is on the right and is blue/black.






Leonard Nimoy dead at 83 – Live long and prosper!

It is a sad day for the Star Trek fandom.  Leonard Nimoy, well known for portraying the logical half-human half-“Vulcan” Mister Spock has passed away at the age of 83 after battling pulmonary disease. Nimoy was a heavy smoker but had quit 20 years ago.  Despite this, the damage had already taken effect and would take his life.  He was admitted to the hospital recently after complaining of chest pains.

Mr. Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 26, 1931.  His parents were of Ukrainian descent and were Orthodox Jews.  His father was a barber.  Nimoy had many roles during his acting career, but he is more known for portraying an extraterrestrial from the planet Vulcan who struggled with his dual species: Human and Vulcan. The character Spock had religious roots. Despite being a civilization of reason and logic, the Vulcans were often portrayed as being a spiritual and religious extraterrestrial race. Nimoy who was Jewish himself, incorporated a Hebrew priest’s blessing called “kohanim.”

The “V” shaped made by separating the middle and ring finger represents the letter shin which is the first letter for “Shaddai” a name of God, “Shalom” which means peace and “Shekhinah” which is a feminine or motherly aspect of God as creator. So all of these years, everyone was getting a subliminal Jewish blessing from “Spock” in the name of El Shaddai or Yahweh.  The irony is that I have seen on Twitter some atheists use Mr. Spock as some icon for atheism.

FASCINATING, right?  🙂

As a fan of Star Trek, I am saddened by the death of Leonard Nimoy.  He was a great actor and inspired his fans to use logic, reason and faith via his portrayal of the spiritual extraterrestrial Mr. Spock.  Nimoy will be missed greatly.  I was happy to see him reprise the role in the remake of Star Trek in 2009 with a younger cast.  It seems like Leonard Nimoy was saying goodbye on Twitter.  This was his last tweet:

Rest in peace Leonard Nimoy, aka Mister Spock.  Live long and prosper!