• We’re still in a Pacman-adulation bliss. What about other marvels?


    Boxer Timothy Bradley, by now, may have taken several baths to help sooth the disappointment from his loss to the Pacman and ease the body stink. With the baths was a withdrawal from the limelight. He perfectly knew that he can’t nurse his wounded pride by attracting public attention and trying to extend his 15 minutes of fame.

    In our side of the Pacific, that is not the case. While the Pacman mania has mellowed a bit, people still talk about the victory as if it were an hour-ago event, and the moment of triumph just popped in full light out of the great cosmos to deliver immense joy to our blighted part of the universe.

    The local sports pages never seem to run out of big boxing names who may challenge the “pambansang kamao” next. Meanwhile, our PK is everywhere and public opinion is heavily on his side in his ongoing bout with the taxmen. The Court of Tax Appeals has given him relief. In 2016, he will surely be a senator of the realm. Mommy Dionisia will stay much longer in the limelight than Timothy Bradley and Miguel Cotto.

    It was timely that two former popes were elevated as saints – which elbowed boxer and mother out of the limelight for a few days.

    What about on other parts of the great cosmos? What is going on in other parts of the universe as our little lives continue to hang on to this sliver of ring triumph with orgiastic joy? This is the sad answer. Would you believe that in some silent parts of the world, there are movements on an epic scale which we are blissfully unaware of. For example, in areas that try to fathom the literal cosmos. Somewhere near the South Pole, an area definitely outside of the tweeting range of the press flacks of Bob Arum.

    For years, physicists and cosmologists have been in the pursuit of cosmology’s holy grail—the discovery of gravitational waves. It is held that the existence of the waves, once proven, would be one of the most awesome discoveries of science as it would explain the origins and expansion of the universe. Mankind would also have a deeper insight into what was behind the formation of every star, every planet and every atom, every nuclei—and every human being—in the universe.

    Short version: It would help mankind better understand the origins of every physical thing in the universe.

    Bicep2, a sophisticated telescope stationed near the South Pole, was reported to have discovered the existence of the waves after three years of painstaking search. Physicists and cosmologists across the globe have been thrilled by the discovery. And with reason.

    The gravitational waves, before Bicep2, existed in the realm of mathematical formulations. Just like many of the great findings about the cosmos. Now, the Bicep2 is documenting precisely just that. There is a glorious pattern. Before the planet Neptune, the Higgs boson and the radio waves were physically discovered, scientists and physicists first laid out their existence in mathematical observations.

    The power and the capacity of the human mind—repeatedly underestimated for generations—would be lifted to a new high by the validation of the gravitational waves, according to the world’s leading physicists and cosmologists.

    The staid realm of physics and cosmology—naturally—has definitely zoomed into a state of high by the Bicep2 discovery.

    The most passionate debates in the developed world have been triggered by the publication of two books. The first book is titled Capital in the Twenty First Century by French economist Thomas Piketty. The second book is titled “ Flash Boys,” and was written by Michael Lewis, who is better known for books that had been turned into movies: The Blind Side and Moneyball.

    Flash Boys is about the high frequency trading (HFT) of US equities. Using sophisticated technologies and algorithms, computers trade on equities within a few seconds at the max for small profits. The essence is speed, volume and profiting the high-frequency way. Lewis asserts that small investors are shafted by HFT.

    After the publication of Flash Boys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has decided to start an HFT trading. And there is a current and evident soul searching on the social and economic value of algorithmic trading involving quants and super computers.

    Capital in the Twenty First Century, the magnum opus of Piketty, uses 15 years of painstaking research on wealth and incomes to portray a developed world with rising inequality. Unless bold political solutions are done, including the imposition of a global tax on wealth, the US and Europe may find themselves back in the 19th century Gilded Age and Belle Epoque, the period of inherited wealth and great inequality.

    The post World War II leveling off of incomes from capital and labor, which ushered in a true and vibrant middle class, is disappearing and from its ruins a new version of “patrimonial wealth” is rising, said the book.

    Income from capital has been pulling away from income from labor and this gets worse when the rate of return from capital outpaces economic growth. Piketty drew his title from the Marx’s Das Kapital to shock the world with a new dark reality dawning.

    Capital has changed the whole discourse on inequality and across the intellectual capitals of the world there is a raging discussion about it. Free market advocates say it is a Marxist tome while progressives say it is one of the most important books of this millennium.

    In the our land of Pacman-mania, we are blissfully oblivious of the truly important things that are changing people and societies—and even our view of the universe—in a fundamental way.


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