NASA is closer than ever to finding a twin for the Earth, astronomers said today, announcing the discovery of eight new planets that circle in the habitable zones of their stars.
Two of the eight are the most Earth-like of any known planets found so far outside our solar system, astronomers told the 225th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington.
The pair are likely to have hard, rocky surfaces in addition to being an orbiting distance from their stars that is neither too hot nor too cold for water and possibly life to exist, astronomers said. The discovery doubles the number of known planets that are close in size to the Earth and believed to be in the so-called “Goldilocks zone” of the stars they orbit.
Representational image. AFP
“We are now closer than we have ever been to finding a twin for…
Imagine a plane flying constantly (solar powered, maybe) above the Earth, from East to West, with a velocity equal and opposite to the Earth’s rotation, taking 24 hours to complete one round trip.
Suppose this flight starts today at 2pm.
Now, can we conclude that the position of the sun in the sky for those in the plane will be fixed and thus the time inside will always be 2pm, as long this flight is maintained?
The question is: What about the date? Will it change or will it just remain the same?
My take on it is, the concept of a day is no longer valid under these conditions, and therefore date becomes arbitrary and can no longer be measured by those inside the plane. It has to be communicated from outside – that is, from the surface. The same must hold true for any observer who leaves the Earth’s surface and its rotational frame of reference that gives us our hours and days!
Sometime ago, I happened to read Adam Smith’s master piece on economics the “Wealth of Nations”. (At least most of the first half!)
One of the central concepts in the book is that “Labour is the first price” – that all value, wealth and money are ultimately derived from, and are thus based upon, human effort or labour. This really impressed me at the time of reading.
But later, on trying to apply this concepts to various situations, there seemed to perhaps be some deficiencies in this argument. Take the software industry for instance – where the initial effort gets multiplied so many times in terms of value.
As a real world example, for instance, how did Bill Gates with Microsoft become the richest man in the world? Certainly not by doing the most labour – but probably by making its value reach millions of people all over the world.
So it is not just labour, though labour is definitely required. The first price could in fact be something else. And trying to answer that is what this post is about.
The word pain here stands for a need, a lacking, an unfulfilled wish or desire. This creates the opportunity for value. If everybody had everything they wanted, and were thus in a state of ultimate bliss, who would need anything?
Examples of such “pain” include:
I can’t find information easily: Relieved by Google search -> a business with enormous value
I can’t stay in touch with my old friends: Relieved by Whatsapp, Facebook -> valued in billions
I am bored: The entire entertainment industry – movies, music, even resorts, tours & theme parks
I am hungry, thirsty, need to look good, feel sick etc, etc, etc
Can’t any product or business in some way be linked to relieving some kind of pain?
So pain creates an opportunity – and what relieves it will be perceived to be of value – something people will be willing to “pay” for. The perceived value should logically be more or less proportionate to the amount of pain relieved – both in terms of quantity and quality.
And further, when more people get access to the product or service, its value will naturally get multiplied.
So the value of a product, service or business can be expressed as:
Pain relieved per person x number of persons whose pain gets relieved
So to answer the Bill Gate’s question, the products and services of Microsoft – Windows, Office etc must have relieved a lot of pain for a lot of people around the world, who were thus willing to “pay” for it.
The moral of all this could perhaps be summarized like this:
The way for a person or organization to become more valuable is to find a way to relieve some kind of “pain” for people – the more pain, and the more people, the better.
A good place to get inspired in this regard is one’s own life – what are the pains perceived, and are they being relived by existing products or services? If not, a great opportunity for generating value has no doubt been found!
There is also an “evil” corollary: by generating pain, an unscrupulous person or business could actually create an opportunity which can then be exploited. Several examples of this do come to mind!
So to conclude, perhaps “pain” can be considered as the first price. Labour, through generating products and services that relieve pain, does indeed generate value – not because of the labour per-se but from the pain it relieves. This also explains why this value can be amplified, several fold, with the help of technology.