Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Osborne: 'There is no miracle cure for the economic crisis'..... U DON'T SAY

Mean while in the autumn statement...

Hey guyyys.. derp derp... the deficit is still here derp. Don't think our policies work derp. However
let me throw some forecasts at you and say 'there is no miracle cure'. 

'General public and the labour camp reply...'

George Osborne will present the governments progress or... lack of...  in solving the economic crisis. Many deem the policies used to restart the economy and decide where to cut spending in areas a complete failure. The financial times have aided the chancellor with some tips: scrap the fuel duty and start spending more money in schools. He has to simultaneously make short term changes and long term investments. The fuel duty scrapping will aid motorists and hence workers. They will not be tempted to stay in if it seemed to save money monthly etc. this fuel saving helps long distance workers. 

This will also encourage unemployed to citizens to go out and try and find a job. If it costs more for them to do that and they are already on benefits. They will rather use that fuel money for a pint etc. 

I think many freelance stockbrokers, investment bankers and talented economic analysts should voice out to Osborne or at least get paid to help him. We need more experienced minds to help precisely predict the complex economic system. 

In other news.... it's Christmas soon!!!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Chaotic Behavior in Moon-Earth-Sun Orbit System Using Runge Kutta Approximation

Runge-Kutta method for approximating differential equations

Methods for approximating the solutions of differential equations are useful, as most differential equations cannot be solved analytically. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to integrate the functions or provide explicit solutions.

We may then invoke approximating methods.

Such methods include the Euler method, Midpoint method and the Runge-Kutta method. The Euler method is the simplest:

It approximates the unknown function by a straight line i.e. Y=m(X-Xo) + Yo, where m = dy/dx. which is the gradient. We know from definition that dy/dx = f(x,y) (some function) which leads us to write 
Y=f(Xo,Yo)(X-Xo)+Yo. So we start off at some initial point values and head off in a direction. 

However we notice that the approximation would keep going in a straight line and it would not 'stick' to the true plot so we invoke an iterative method.

Yn+1= h f(Xn,Yn) + Yn

You notice that the Euler method is essentially too naive. We invoke a second method which uses the midpoint of the midpoint of the Euler method. So it is essentially correcting itself by 1 step which is a better approximation.

We then... you guessed it.... do more midpoints. We end up using a very good approximation which is known as the R-K approx.

The fundamental algorithm is:

Yn+1= Yn + k1/6+k2/3+k3/3+k4/6+O (h5)

where k1 = hf(Xn,Yn) , k2 = hf(Xn+1/2h, Yn + 1/2k1) , k3 =hf(Xn +1/2h, Yn + 1/2k2),
k4 = hf(Xn+h, Yn + k3)

Where K's are just co-efficients which aid in self correcting the algorithm in 'figuring' out the new gradient after an iteration.

We can apply this method in approximating SECOND-order differential equations if we write them in terms of first order differential equations. (If said differentials are coupled... meaning they depend on one another).

How to use coupled differentials to approx orbits

The fundamental algorithm of the R-K method is always the same. We just need to formulate 4 differential equations (2 for each dimension (X, Y)).

We can say define (X,Y,Velocity X, Velocity Y)  as quantities relating to Z(1), Z(2), Z(3) and Z(4) respectively.

We say X and Y are the distances the Earth's centre is from the origin (the sun).

From general laws of classical mechanics: dX/dt = Velocity X, dY/dt = Velocity Y, d(Velocity X)/dt = acceleration X direction and d(Velocity Y)/dt = acceleration in Y direction.

This means we have reduced d^2 X/dt^2 (second order) as first order differential.

We can set the acceleration X and acceleration Y in accordance with the laws of Keplar and Newton:

- Ms*X/(R^2)  (For X)  and -Ms*Y/(R^2) (For Y).... In cartesian co-ords :  R = Root (X^2 + Y^2)

but we have to times R^2 by another R as we are getting the magnitude (Basically using the definitions of unit vectors and changing the unit vector in the Rth direction as a value R)

So we finally end up... with our Z(4) arrays which relate to the x-y displacements and velocities of the earth
a sub function which looks like:

Dim Mass_Sun, Mass_Earth As Double
        Mass_Sun = 100 : Mass_Earth = 2

        dzdt(1) = z(3) '= Vel_X
        dzdt(2) = z(4) '= Vel_Y
        dzdt(3) = -(Mass_Sun * z(1)) / (z(1) ^ 2 + z(2) ^ 2) ^ (3 / 2) 'Accel earth X
        dzdt(4) = -(Mass_Sun * z(2)) / (z(1) ^ 2 + z(2) ^ 2) ^ (3 / 2) 'Accel earth Y

With these in place and with the CORRECT initial conditions and with some program which calls plots of points... you can simulate the earth orbiting around the sun.

You can also do this with the moon. Setting the Z(4) array to an Z(8) array as we need 4 more differential functions to map the moons orbit onto some plot.

Thinking about this... the moon is orbiting around the earth but it also feels an attractive force from the sun. So its acceleration will contain one force term from contribution from the Sun's mass and another for the earth's mass. To plot it in relation to the SUN's origin we need to think about the differences in distances between earths points and moons and use these distances to define a new radius from the earths centre to the moons but still in the co-ordinate system of the sun.

We get a function like:

dzdt(5) = z(7)
dzdt(6) = z(8)

dzdt(7) = -Sun contribution in X  - Earth contribution in X

 dzdt(8) = ''  '' for Y...

Note we have defined the Z array elements in a similar fashion to what we did with the earths.

Initial condition trial and error hence realizing the sensitivity of the systems behavior
on small deviations to initial conditions

You should have a nice initial condition for the Earth for a stable orbit. The moons orbit is much more complicated and you will find that it takes a while to see why. If you set the distance between moon and earth as too large the moon will not feel enough force to orbit the earth it will orbit the sun or fly off (if it has initial velocities). I will not say the appropriated initial conditions. This spoils the exercise. 

I will however comment on the fact that, if one changes the initial velocity in a direction by a small amount.. say 1 part in 10 (+- 0.1) the system will look similar to the one before however over time the orbit will look completely different... what happened to me was that it would orbit for a small time say 1/4 of the earths orbit round the sun... then it would somehow get closer and closer to the earths centre.... its period value increases and then it just flies off at a tangent. 

The system depends strongly on initial conditions which is a character of chaotic behavior (butterfly effect). Two body gravitational systems are complicated and we see in other star systems that planets orbits vary greatly and the moons orbits differ greatly too compared to others.

If the earth was slightly lighter or slightly further away from the sun we could see very different orbits from the one we are in now (over a long period of time). 

It was an interesting observation. It also highlights the fact that objects orbiting other objects are actually statistically rare. Objects can fly past planets (asteroids, planet debris etc.) but not come into orbit, it takes some special cases for things to start orbiting planets and stars. Our universe and galaxy is sooooo large however that the actual occurrences of  orbits will increase.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Unveiled Syrian Woman Goes Viral

Dana Bakdounis

Winston in George Orwell's novel 1984 experienced a dream about Julia, his love and a rebel to the absolute dictatorship that governed them, ripping her bland garments off in an open field. He thought to himself, that she was... with one sharp motion of the arm freeing herself from Big Brothers chains. 

This picture reminded me of this great moment in the book, as it is completely analogous to it. Dana Bakdounis who is a 20 year old Syrian woman posted a facebook photo of herself without her head garment and showed her passport photo which represented herself within the system. The system is of course the Muslim Sharia-law system, where religious dogma are installed into the so called justice system. The system, generally, is a fundamentalist-anti-equality one which puts men as the superior and women as their demeanor...  a classic patriarchal society based on no evidence. (No such society can be founded on evidence as there is none!)

Bakdounis is brave. It is extremely disrespectful.. almost heretical to unveil oneself in public (according to Muslim preachers). In some parts of the middle east such unveiling would result in the death penalty or beatings and humiliation. However she is not the only one pushing away from this tradition, universities in Syria are banning full face veils as the staff of the universities such as, Kinda al-Shammat (a law professor) are saying that it contradicts the universities academic values.

"We have never gone to the extreme left or the extreme right," - Kinda al Shammat

The photo was placed on a feminist facebook page: which has 71,905 likes!!!!  Lot's of support was given by women from Syria who are religious and they respected her audacity and her determination to rightfully claim the freedoms they deserve.

What I would like to see is Bakdounis' renewed passport with a photo of her without her head veil. I say this because your passport is your international identity, having to wear a head veil is implying that it is part of who you are... the fact is it shouldn't be. It is mere cloth, it is an accessory. What is intrinsic to you is your body and your brain (and all the wonderful thoughts and memories that come with it).

Is this another crack in the dam of a fundamentalist society holding back the natural flow of freedom and honesty? Yes. Ideas that are false, made up to numb society will be found out by reason and the need to progress. Society cannot progress when its basis in law and in the community is founded upon religious dogma.

"I want justice because I already have my freedom, 
and I'm not afraid of anything now, now I can do 
whatever I believe it is right to do” - Dana Bakdounis

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Hormone Oxytocin Could Help Stop Male Partners Cheating

Rene Hurlemann, MD, PHD, of the university of Bonn is leading a study into the effects of the hormone Oxytocin on heterosexual males in committed relationships. They placed the hormone into the system of a male in a committed relationship (Called M-r) through a nasal spray and 45 minutes later they introduced an unknown attractive female (U-f). The female would move closer to M-r but M-r had to say when the distance between them was uncomfortable. They conducted this test with Oxytocin introduced in heterosexual  single males (M-s) and they also, for comparison, introduced a placebo into M-s and M-r.

They found that with an increase in Oxytocin levels the minimum distance between M-r and U-f was greater than with M-s with Oxy, M-s no Oxy, M-r no Oxy. With repeated results and minimization of errors, they had shown a relationship between the hormone and infidelity.

Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus (Figure 1) and it is produced by magnocellular neurosecretory  cells which are large cells in the supraoptic nucleus (abbreviated - SON  shown in Figure 2) within the hypothalamus. SON contains around 3,000 neurons.

Figure 1 - Overall cross section of head and magnification of Hypothalamus (Green)

Figure 2- Map showing SON which is shaded.

The hormone plays roles within females such as Lactation (Let down effect) and Uterine contraction. Also: 

"Previous animal research in prairie voles identified oxytocin as major key for monogamous fidelity in animals," Hurlemann said. "Here, we provide the first evidence that oxytocin may have a similar role for humans."

Read more at:
So the hormone has an effect on fidelity (even in mammals that are not human or prime-ape)   and some motherly processes in female humans. This research is now showing it has effects on males in committed relationships. Hurlemann's team also conducted an experiment between M-r with Oxy and U-m (unknown males) and this did not follow the same pattern, nothing interesting happened. What Hurlemann's team could do for future research is conduct the same experiment on homo sexual men in committed relationships and vice versa and see if this has the same effect.

Obviously do not try and introduce this hormone into your boyfriends system without his consent, but maybe in marriage counselling where promiscuity is a problem... they may recommend a nasal spray of oxytocin before a night out so the man is less likely to cheat. (Assuming no knowledge of trust between partners).

Stay tuned for more science news!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

On Why Politics Should Become Scientific

Politics is not a scientific field. It is a field based largely on ideology, philosophy, economics and some extra little science which is chosen at will. A lot of politicians ignore science, evidence that they may need to collate and they sometimes ignore people who have experience or expertise in a given field.

Here for instance is a video of Sir Alan Sugar presenting his speech about the economy, he presents his views clearly, honestly and presents some 'tangible' real implementations.. such as Duty on diesel reduction, tax revenue deduction etc. for small-medium businesses which are employing more people and taking part in good, fair business.

Sir Alan Sugar has become a peer of the house of lords. He will no doubt use his business knowledge to inform the Lords on legislation. His knowledge was gained from real experience (experience should 99% of the time  be respected and valued as experience teaches us about what we have experienced, in Sugar's case it is the world of business and finance).

Here is a video of the worst of the houses of parliament, here we witness disorder and chaos in a place where ordered, specific and careful debate should take place (as what the houses implement within the state affects the economy and the lives of it's citizens):

There are many more instances of chaos like this... many instances of name-calling, heckling and just outright useless jabbering. However, many MPs genuinely care about their constituency but a lot of them care more about their wage, their social status and their ego to really spend most of their focus on solving problems.

We must question whether MPs and politicians in general have the right tool kits to solve complicated problems within complicated systems. Most of the issues arising are to do with the economy, with education and health. These are all systems which can be modeled by mathematics and science (or regulations and changes can be based upon evidence and testing).

How can this field become a field where problems are solved due to evidence and tested assumptions?

Society is complex. Politicians, Lords etc. have a hard job of putting legislation, initiatives and programs in to effect the motion of society in such a way as to begin to improve problems. However most politicians have no training in modelling complex systems in a specific way. They are not trained to completely separate their moral, religious and emotional values from the facts. Scientists are trained to do this everyday, if they don't do this efficiently then they will soon see more failures than successes within their research as their morals may steer them away from evidence or away from some possible theory which does not sit well with their previous intuition.

This field can become more scientific if future politicians have scientific training or are able to solve problems like a scientist. It is not enough for MPs to refer to other working scientists (as they are busy) and these MPs may still pick and choose data or conclusions to fit their view of the problem or just to stay in the game (money for themselves). 

In the house of lords we want to see projectors which show presentations of data collections or tests on different methods of teaching and showing each successes or failures of methods. We need to be more specific in politics as changing or analyzing complex systems, ignoring or not taking time to find details, will lead to great uncertainties and deviations. 

Take for example economic theory, it ignores some basic facts about human psychology and the environment. These all have parts in the function which defines the system. 

So at the heart of this is educating a large volume of the youth in solving problems scientifically and mathematically and using practicality, equality and reason to run the government and houses of parliament.

But politics is still governed by a certain class, from a certain education system and holds many a person who just wants wealth. 

This class is the upper classes from  private/public schools where traditional history, politics etc. is taught rather than pure problem solving and using quantitative ideas/techniques to test assumptions and predictions.

What this nation, more importantly this world, needs is people who can solve problems to increase financial success, knowledge and healthy and solve them god damn well. These people are in demand but the field of politics is so convoluted that nobody apart from posh-upper-class-eton-latin-reading-philosophical-bullshitters who want duck houses is going to go in it.

Friday, 26 October 2012

1984: Masterpiece of 20th Century Political Fiction

By Luke Kristopher Davis

Imagine a world where...

War is peace. Ignorance is strength. Freedom is slavery. These were the slogans of the 'party' which were installed in the members of the inner and outer parties. Everyone publicly obeyed them... even believed these statements, for there was no real privacy, everywhere was public, everyone was seen. At first glance these statements appear contradictory... they are contradictory... but the state was such that you could not argue otherwise. There was no reference to dictionaries other than the editions of 'newspeak' which was a language made by the party. There was no object which could explicitly bring you to the conclusion that anything the party promoted or said was wrong. They were always right. They were infallible. I say infallible, but as we know no living organism can be perfectly correct about everything in the universe, so to make the party appear infallible they had to re-write history continuously. They changed the past, they eradicated the concept of real empirical truth.

The state, known as Oceania, was in continuous war with Eurasia ... in the end it didn't matter who they were at war with. In the end it only mattered that they were in a state of war. If they could make it appear that the state was in war to the people then that was enough. The party saw war as a political necessity, to keep rations down, to keep blind allegiance to the party, to install in the public a sense of paranoia.

Party members 'or comrades' were drained, labored to exhaustion, tired, under-fed, lonely and squeezed to an ever obeying pulp of human flesh. They were never alone, but they were lonely. They were always watched by the telescreens, even if they were in their own homes they had to be conscious of their facial expressions and their murmuring. Most people trained themselves to appear emotionless, some were actually emotionless. Any twitch of the face, any weird prolonged staring or any sign of intelligence would be a crime. Thinking about Big Brother in a bad way was crime. It was thoughtcrime in newspeak. The party tried to stop rebellion in its infancy, which is to capture the thought... to kill the idea. Once an idea is eradicated from the language of the people then any revolution was impossible they thought.

They were wrong. We are creatures and evolution has formed in us an instinct to desire, to love, to hate, to feel, to indulge, to frolic and to play. You can kill the idea but the idea has an origin, it is within our human make up. Was Big Brother too strong for any revolution to carry momentum ?

Totalitarianism gone mad...

In the real world total control of a state of a fair number of civilians is extremely difficult, there are always gaps and loose ends which evolve into revolts and revolutions. Take a look at China, Libya, Egypt and many  once authoritarian country. North Korea is as close to a '1984' state. It is isolated, it may create the illusion of imminent war, it has a figure everyone must obey and love (King Jon Il and King Il sung etc.) they are constrained to think only within the confines of the party. Any sign of rebellion or upheaval will be stamped on and those involved will be sent to labor camps (See...

What if a totalitarian state, if it is at all physically possible, would envelope a continent or become a super power? What would such a state look like?  George Orwell excellently answers these questions, not entirely based on data or facts (for it would be a complete extrapolation of data anyways) but it is based on extremely thought through politics, experience (as it was written just after the Second World War) and a great imagination. Orwell paints a bleak, inhuman, laborious, repetitive  authoritarian world through the eyes of Winston. Orwell makes the point that those in charge of a huge totalitarian state may go in so far as committing its people to crimes of thought, merely thinking about rebellion. They may come to a point where they will re-write history, language and hence truth to keep their people blind, so they have no other conception of society to  compare the state too.. hence no discontentment.

Orwell highlights the lunacy of such a state and the inevitability, any rebellion would be near impossible. This is shown at the ending (I won't spoil it here). There are many intelligent themes through the book which one should generally reflect upon: Does truth predicate on language? What is the past? What is history and is it important? Can you kill an idea? The structure of society 'High, Middle and Low' and what does it mean to be human? These are all cleverly weaved into the book. 

I cannot stress how phenomenal the book is in its intellectual and political front and the way it is written as a fictional novel. It was written as a warning and as so it does not shy away from some the gruesome consequences of such a regime. It really does highlight the mindset of dictators or the rationale (the apparent rationale that is) they go through to build and believe in their regimes. 

This book will change your life, it still has the power to do that. After reading it for the first time (I am listening to it as I write now, in audio form) it made me observe the political structure of the country I am in and the elements of humans that would be crushed if any totalitarian state would ensue. Now I am interested in how it would kill science, knowledge and any higher ambition in life then to just persist through time. 

Read it. 

But just remember... Big Brother is not watching you.

Eric Arthur Blair AKA George Orwell...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

An Attempt to Explain Oscillating Flies in Groups (Non-mathematically)

I was walking through Astbury Mere, a lake near my house, on a sunny clear day. There were many flies about, this may be due to the abundance of water, greenery and the general amount of good resources in that environment. I might have also witnessed these flies during their mating season, as many species conduct their mating over water or near water (especially the mayfly).

One particular feature of the flies (I did not know what species they were, but i found out after some time that many flies exhibit this) was that they seemed be arranged in a certain configuration in which each fly would oscillate in a confined region, then sporadically change its region or buzz off. I never really noticed this before. There was a geometrical neatness and efficiency about the group of flies oscillating.

I tried to think of reasons for this. I came up with a number of possibilities:

1) It is only a feature of flies in mating season, where male flies are scanning the group for potential mates or vice versa. The configuration is merely an evolved system which makes mating more efficient.

2) It is a general feature of many fly systems, but its specific configurations and behaviours vary from species to species. It is caused by the evolved need for the flies to communicate, through chemical emissions, either food resources, mating etc. (I do not know the limit of complexity of the communications, I can only hint that this feature could have a social function). This may have evolved as flies that carried genes which encouraged  communication between other flies in flight could help them gain food, more mates or find shelter which could help them survive hence pass on more genes etc..

3) It is only a coincidental phenomenon occuring randomly within that species or only a few species, the phenomenon occurs only due to spatial restrictions etc. (nothing programmed within their genetic code)

Hypothesis 3) can be ruled out quite easily. Why would flies waste energy in flying in oscillation within a group of flies randomly ?  Surely they would have evolved not to waste energy, they would instead spend it on gathering food, mating or finding shelter.

Then we come to another question. What if each fly tried to find food etc. but failed and kept on failing to find food and shelter but one fly found food and shelter. Now let's suppose that the fly who found the food and shelter had genetic relatives close by, it would be in his genes interest to communicate to them his new found prize.

It could be that this phenomenon (oscillating in groups) occurred already in some fly species due to mating (reason (1) ) what happens if some flies over a long period of time tried to continue this social oscillation process not just to mate but to communicate information about food etc. Obviously they would not make conscious decisions, the genes would instruct them. So this means over time a gene (or mutated gene from the same phenomenon for just mating) which encouraged flies to communicate in air in some manner about other resources, not just mating, became successful. Now we can understand, as biologists, why such a gene would spread as it would benefit an individuals genes to preserve his relatives which have some fractional amount of his genes, and it would benefit an outsider fly (of same species) who could listen in and make his own body survive (which in turn means his own genes survival).

Over time the geometry and mathematical efficiency of the phenomenon would become more complex, leading to flies finding the optimal position and group shape to pick up chemical signals from other flies.

The most common group shape I have witnessed is a sphere where flies would oscillate on the surface of the sphere.

From this information one could devise a mathematical algorithm which tells a fly where, how long and how often to oscillate, change position etc. within the group. (Energy expenditure would also play a role as a constraint).

I hope to think more on this problem and construct a sound mathematical algorithm to explain it.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Marie Curie: An inspiration to all.

            By Sujata Limbu 
 " Be less curious about  people and more curious about ideas" -Marie Curie                            

Growing up, we all have had inspirational figures and Idols to look up to with admiration, hope and ambition.Though opinions differ between people but Marie Curie, the mother of modern physics is truly an inspiration. She is the first famous scientist in the modern world, first female to be awarded two noble prizes for different sectors (chemistry and physics), first woman to be awarded in research science in Europe, first female professor at Sorbonne, discovered and isolated polonium and radium, establish the nature of radiation and beta rays, a mother of two daughters, of which Irene Curie also won a noble prize for artificial radiation (chemistry). Truly an inspiration and a woman ahead of her time.


Marie Slodowska-Curie was born on the 7th of November 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. Only 15 years old when she finished her high school studies with first rank in her class, she went into teaching to set aside money for her sister Bronya Slodowska for her Medical school in Paris, along with her living expenses. After Bronya was done, she was to do the very same for her sister. She became a well paid governess for a wealthy agriculturist who ran a beet-sugar factory.She fell in love with their eldest son and her romantic interest with Karmierz Zorawski, the oldest son of the family was not appreciated.

But she stayed, discontinuing her affair and concentrating on self study taking interest sociological studies, physics and chemistry to find where academic interests lay. Her father was a physics teacher and she took advanced maths course with him though mail. She learnt chemistry from a chemist in the beet-sugar factory It soon became clear that she wanted to purse knowledge in  maths and physical sciences.

"During these years of isolated work, trying little by little  to find any real preference, I finally turned towards mathematics and physics, and resolutely undertook a serious preparation for future work " 

In 1891, Marie finally set out for Paris and enrolled at Sorbonne. Her fear of being insufficiently prepared for university was very accurate. Her maths, science and french were not on the same level as her fellow students but she was more than determined to work hard to overcome those shortcomings. Her living arrangements being very basic, she used to wear every clothing she owned to keep herself warm during winter. She was awarded a scholarship to continue with her maths masters. Before completing her masters degree, she was commissioned by the society for the encouragement of National Industry to do a study, relating magnetic properties of different steels to their chemical composition. She had to find a lab space, this is when she meets Pierre Curie, who was a laboratory chief in Municipal school of industrial physics and chemistry in Paris.They married in July 1895.

Six months after their wedding, German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen discovered rays that could travel through solid wood or flesh (now known as X rays). Months after this discovery, French Physicist Henri Becquerel reported to the French Academy of science  that Uranium compounds (when kept in the dark) would emit rays that would fog a photographic plate. Despite this interesting find, Uranium rays were ignored but it appealed to Marie. Allowed to use a crowded, damp storeroom as a lab, she used a clever technique  using an electrometer which  Pierre and his older brother Jaques had invented 15 years earlier. The device measures extremely low electrical currents. Marie used it to measure faint currents that can pass through air that has been bombarded with Uranium rays. Observations such as the electrical effects of Uranium rays are constant, regardless of the shape and form, wet or dry, exposed to light or heat. It showed that minerals with higher concentration of Uranium emitted the most intense rays. These observations led to Marie's simple yet revolutionary hypothesis; the emission of rays by Uranium compounds were an atomic property.

Marie tested all known elements to check if other elements displayed the same properties as observed in Uranium, where many chemists donated variety of samples. It was finally concluded that the emission appeared to be an atomic property. This particular behaviour of Uranium (and thorium) was named "radioactivity". Pierre joined her research as it had revealed that two Uranium ores, pitchblende and chalcolite were much more radioactive than pure Uranium itself. They concluded that this nature was due to one more additional, undiscovered, radioactive elements. It was a very difficult procedure to track down the new radioactive elements (Pitchblende is a compound consisting 30 different elements). By making repeated seperations and various separations of various elements in Pitchblende and using an electrometer to identify the most radioactive fractions, two new elements were discovered, Polonium (in the honour of Marie's country of birth) and Radium.

Not only was she a wonderful woman ahead of her time, but her life story must inspire young scientists (or any one for that  matter) to work hard and be determined for your passion. From a governess in love to the mother of Modern physics.  Her modesty, hardships and her life story must be taken as in inspiration. Be curious, or as Curie said - 'Life is not to be feared, only understood'.


Marie Curie was honored two Nobel prizes, one in 1903 and one in 1911.
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. - Marie Curie

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tunisia: Woman is being made responsible for her own rape by policemen

Crowds gather to support the victim and to stand for women's rights

Rape is an undeniably primitive, immoral and sick act.That is unquestionable (unless you are some 1 brain cell American Republican called Todd Akin The victims of rape have no choice (this seems obvious) yet the Tunisian government are trying to hold the victim of the police raping accountable for her own rape. They are trying to charge her for 'indecency' which is some violation of some Muslim, anti-feminist and ancient law.

The victim of the raping was with her fiance in their car, when 3 policemen stopped them and this somehow led to 2 policemen raping her. The court are accusing her and her fiancee of 'indecency'. The policemen face greater charges if found guilty (which no doubt they are as the court are trying to refrain from charging them, not due to evidence but due to avoiding shame) they face the death penalty or very long term prison sentences. 

If justice be rightfully applied, which I am sorry to say is not so easily done in Eastern countries whose legal systems are still heavily based on religious, authoritarian or tradtional principles, then the policemen should be prosecuted for rape and violation of their duty to protect the citizens. 

This case not only shows the progress needed in Tunisia for women's rights, it highlights a more general and macroscopic error in their justice system. They need to evolve from their authoritarian and religious basis which undermines equality, democracy, pacifism and freedom of speech.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Particle Physics Papers Will Become Free For All To Read

Join the world's leading scientists at the frontiers of knowledge

12 journals which publish leading particle physics 'peer reviewed' papers have signed an agreement which give the public free access to the papers. This is great news, leading scientific research is finally being displayed hot off the press to our screens. People may be thinking 'yeah.... how are we going to understand this stuff anyways?'... that is not the point... this liberalization of peer reviewed papers will benefit everyone in the long run. Very smart youngsters who are capable of following and learning cutting edge science will be able to read the latest papers without having to pay a hefty fee. This means they can even take part or get in contact with leading scientists about their work and even help them.

The journals will get their financing from libraries and other upfront payments (privately funded or university funded). Finance is not the issue with journals, it is (in this case was) about their restriction to just leading scientists or people who could afford to read it. Now their work can be scrutinized and read by everyone, obviously the big names in the field will still do most of the rebuttle or validation of papers but as youngsters become more tuned in to leading science then we will see a great acceleration in interest and hence more economic interest.

This is how science should really be, it should be publicly open to everyone to really rip it's claims and mathematics apart. It is also a way in which the gap between leading science and other lay fields or layman can be closed.

Read more at Nature leading scientific journal :

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

How Freedom of Expression Allows Efficient Selection of Memes

Freedom of expression is a principle which states that the individuals of a state may speak, write or publicize messages freely. The limitation is that the messages sent by individuals cannot lead to incitement of violence or crime. This limitation is obviously disputable as causal links are not explicitly known, discussions on this limitation are not relevant at the present time.

This principle carries legal power and this power differs in various states around the world. Generally speaking in western countries such as Great Britain and the U.S.A the law around this principle is similar. Individuals and companies can express themselves freely without worrying about offence (legally, ignoring some racial cases) and they can publish their opinions on the government, its officials and the happenings of the state.

Various magazines, pornography, numerous television shows and newspapers thrive on this principle, that is, without having the ability to express freely these shows would either be stopped by the state (due to their negation to policies or their ill influence on the people) or would be too boring to thrive economically.

John Stuart Mill proposed that freedom of expression of individuals is intrinsic to their individual freedom. He offers very reasonable and insightful arguments in favor of this claim. However there may be an argument for the protection of freedom of expression without appealing to morality. We could appeal to utility and how freedom of expression acts as a selection sieve for memes in the 'meme pool', and how this sieve speeds up the process of selection and therefore speeds up culture and intellectual progression.

Let's re-paint our picture of memes and the meme pool... which are just re-named jargon for ideas and culture. We use the word meme for idea and meme pool for culture not to confuse ourselves, we use them to remind ourselves that ideas could perhaps act like genes and they could also take part in a very similar process we commonly know as... natural selection. In 'Memes: The Survival of Ideas' I propose that the meme pool contains memes which act as the super-meme, they act as a sort of abstract monopoly. For example I outlined how religion and fundamentalism acted like super-memes in the past, ideas which contradicted or threatened this super-meme would not succeed in copying itself or adapting itself to the meme pool. I also argued how science was a meme which arose which went against the super-meme, it gradually spread throughout the meme pool due to its success in aiding humans understanding and manipulation of the world (memes which most encourage physical benefits within humans are greatly favored as it most definitely aids gene survival). Science became the new super-meme which over time would change the face of the meme-pool.

Back to freedom of expression... what does this do in the meme-pool? Well humans who are free to speak would converse more about their true opinions on important ideas, or just general ideas (like the best club to go too), if we focus on the important ideas we see that public debates, television shows, newspaper articles etc. publicly show humans talking about these ideas either with conflicting views or general discussions. These debates spread through screens to people homes and influence their own memes and would stimulate home debates. This microscopically translates to collisions of memes and meme activity as more memes are able to come into 'intellectual' contact. Over time this activity will lead to some memes dying out or some memes succeeding (for example feelings on disabled people may have greatly changed after paralympics due to tv talks and hence home debates). For instance a meme embodying prejudice or 'bad' feelings for disabled people may be quickly eradicated due to meme activity encouraged by freedom of expression.

This freedom of expression would lead to increase in meme activity and selection processes, we would hope in thinking that this would lead to improvements in our culture, science and general intellectual nature. Looking at states where freedom of expression are encouraged we see that this translates to economic success and scientific and moral developments.

We must remember that 'freedom of expression' is a meme itself. It is succeeding in meme pools where the super memes are of a rational, modern and scientific nature, as science and reason encourage open debates of research, contentious issues and any problem as problems are solved through discussion and experiment.
If 'freedom of expression' meme helps promote the super meme i.e. science and science helps humans then it logically follows that freedom of expression would help humans as a species.

This meme would not work where religion, traditionalism and totalitarianism are quite powerful in the meme pool (such as North Korea and Eastern Nations) as freedom of expression could lead to questioning of authority of the state or of religious authority. This negates dictatorship, indoctrination and authority which are the tools religion etc. use to keep themselves dominant in the meme pool.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Could Economic Drought Be Necessary For An Evolving Economy?

We hear in the news that recessions are intrinsically bad, that they reflect the faults in our economy and our economic models. Yes they do encourage unemployment. Yes they do lead to some businesses closing down. Yes they do put our country in debt. What if this is temporarily bad for those unemployed or for those businesses, but necessary over time for an evolving economy, one that is changing based on new technologies, new demands and based on a complicated animal... us.

Firstly recessions represent the slowing down of economic activity, again we must think of demand and investment priority (human quantities) as changing in the private sector. Resources may be shortening out too which could cause some businesses to halt. So we can think of recessions as human caused, either on the consumer level, provider level and on the banker level. Remember bankers are human too and to keep their money rolling in they will do whatever they can, to them capital > morals.

Recessions happen for a reason, they happen due to an accumulation of micro-economic human activity which is trying to push the direction of the economy into a different direction. When I say direction I do not mean physically or financially (being only two- up or down) I mean that there are big changes in markets and businesses which microscopically are significantly affecting the economy as a whole.

So in recessions... some businesses fail to keep their revenue stable this means they have to drop staff to keep break even. This leads to unemployment. Now those who are unemployed may have skill sets and move to other businesses who are still doing okay, or they will stay unemployed for a while or move to a different job or location. This means that there is massive musical chairs of employees waiting to find another seat. The businesses that fail to keep standing will die. After time other businesses will pick up their profits and begin to look for more employment and hence pick up those that were unemployed. Some may stay unemployed because they have out of date skills or are not wanted or a just plain lazy. What is key here is that a recession has the ability to sieve out unwanted businesses, unwanted skills but give possibly new business or prevailing businesses more market room and possible employment (from unemployed). So the economy has evolved slightly, some die some prevail. If unemployment and business inactivity are halted for a while it merely shows that something needs to change... businesses need to meet demands more successful to grow, people need to get better qualifications (or update their qualifications) and of course this takes time. (Look at Greece).

We always think of the economy as an entity infinitely progressing upwards through time... yes some quantities like GDP can progress upwards for a very long time, but the economy is a complicated system based on finite objects and cannot expand infinitely. The fuel for the economy (money) is limited and as such we should view the economy as an organism or collection thereof which can only get more efficient in its environment (nation) it is not something which can get infinitely bigger and richer.

If we view the economy as an organism which is built upon 'selfish' businesses then it is to no surprise why recessions occur, they could mathematically (this has not been proven) be necessary for it's evolution algorithm.

It is common sense really, at the moment,  we are an ever changing (culturally short term wise) organism and if something which is based on us does not change infrequently and slightly chaotically then it will fail. It will fail to adapt to is environment.

In nature, genes die out or spread and become successful. Nature is ugly but efficient over time. We have to drop the assumption that large complicated systems should obey simple rules and adapt linearly. They are ugly and complicated and hence we need methods resembling chaos to explain them .

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Physicists Question Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle

Uncertainty principle expressed mathematically

In the development of quantum mechanics many claim that Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty embodied the strange personality of the quantum world. With Dirac's input and Schrodinger's equation the uncertainty principle acted as the foundation of this fairly new physics.

It states that the 'degree of certainty' of a measurement of a particles displacement would effect the 'degree of certainty' of the measurement of the particles momentum. In the expression above, the Greek symbol delta
is used to denote the 'degree of certainty'. The product of the delta(displacement) and the delta(momentum) must obey a rule which states that the product must have a value larger or equal to a constant. This constant is related to planks  constant and it is a well known one in quantum mechanics.

Recent research in the University of Toronto has found data implying that the principle may be too 'pessimistic', the disturbance on the system by measurements might be slightly more than what the researchers found. This does not invalidate that principle, it is merely an improvement due to more precise measuring equipment.

The team at Professor Aephraim Steinberg's quantum optics research group at U of T  used a weak enough measurement (which did not impose itself too greatly on the system of photons) on a pair of photons then measured it strongly to see the effect of the weak measurement on the system. They found that the disturbance was less than Heisenberg would have predicted. Many repeats of these experiments help validate the conclusion that the principle needs slightly adjusting for weaker measurements.

Maybe Heisenberg wasn't so certain about his principle aye.. 

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Aging: Activation of Lethal Genes?

Genes provide instructions for developments in the body. As the body grows and ages (which is a consequence of gene activation which in turn leads to the production of growth hormone and hormone production) different genes become activated. This is called regulation of gene expression and concerns mostly genes related to protein instruction and production.

When we are fairly sexually youthful say below 30, our bodies are at their best. Our immune systems are at their strongest, our muscles and bones are at their peak and our fertility rate is at its highest. Many of our genes are expressed in our childhood, teenage and young adult years. These genes seem to be good, i.e. they seem to enhance our bodies. However this is not ingrained in mammals. It is not biologically a necessity  that our good genes should express themselves at the beginning of their lives.

Evolution has made it so, over time, it seems that any 'bad' genes which may have been expressed early on in our lives have been sieved out. As these genes are deemed 'bad' which means they are detrimental to an individuals life span, individuals with these genes would have trouble reproducing or not reproducing at all. (Mortality rates for cancer... e.g. prostate cancer carriers to death ratio ~ 106:28. Over time in youths, this would have a dramatic affect).

 These 'bad' genes could activate cancers or permutations in the body which could limit its survival. Those without these genes would live longer and reproduce more. Over time (a long time) this would result in people not having these bad genes, as they would fail to reproduce at a significant rate, obviously a few still have these genes expressed early on but it is rare.

Reproduction obviously occurs quite young, so genes which are activated after reproduction (in females) and  after a certain age in men could be bad. As those individuals carrying it would not be at a reproductive disadvantage, i.e., in their youth they would be healthy and reproduce the same amount as other individuals.

Genes are expressed due to chemical cues in the body, so the presence or lack of a hormone or chemical could activate a gene. Through time and after reproduction our bodies could stop producing the same amount of a hormone, say, progesterone (in females) which would be a cue for a 'bad' gene to start expressing itself.

So, it could be argued that the activation of these 'bad' genes (which could be mutations or copying errors too) could by themselves result in aging.

This is an extremely sly way for unwanted genes to persist through evolutionary time... they get passed on through reproduction because they haven't been activated yet. So reproduction has led our species into a happy enough youth but the age at which we reproduce(d) at has resulted in a bad old age, as we have not been able to sieve out the bad genes.

Obviously technology and medicine has helped kurb bad genes, however we can go further with this and find the heart of how these genes become expressed in those ages and maybe result in a longer and better quality old age.

(This is basically Peter Medawar's theory on aging using mutation accumulation)

See Also:

Friday, 24 August 2012

Myanmar: Racism at its best.

Myanmar(Also known as Burma); a relatively small country on the south-east of Asia has been known for its precious ruby mines, but mostly for its Military Junta that lasted for nearly fifty years. Being an isolated nation, Myanmar has established itself as a pariah state, with appalling humans’ rights records but has produced an inspirational patriot like Aung San Suu kyi who fought for her pro-democracy values for twenty one years and won a noble peace price in 1991 along with other respectable awards. Being in and out of house arrest for fifteen years, she finally assumed the office on the 2nd of May of this year for National League for Democracy.

As a country Myanmar is going through a great phase of change. Where freedom of speech is not guaranteed by law, the censorship of controlling and regulating certain informations on areas such as religious, politics, moral and ethnic issues is due to be abolished soon ( as in it will take good few years).

 As spectators, the general  impression of Myanmar is that of a quite Buddhist nation possibly with a Royal family like an another small Buddhist nation like Bhutan. But on the contrary, Myanmar is one of first Asian countries to end the monarchy in 1916 and like most Asian countries has a diverse ethnicity.  But the recent news of racial discriminative acts against the Rohingya Muslims has been outrageous and inhumane. 

The on-going violence in the northern state of Rakhine between the Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists has escalated. As many are left homeless due to villages being set on fire, children being killed, women are being raped and survivors desperately seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries such as Thailand where they are being pushed away on engine less boats to die in the sea or being rejected by border guards of Bangladesh. From the statistics given by the president of Burmese Rohingya organisation UK (on the 28/06/2012): 650 Rohingyas have been killed, 1,200 are missing, and more than 80,000 have been displaced. Over Three hundred houses and a number of public buildings have also been destroyed and burned. All this because of one reason: The Rohingyas are dark brown skinned. 

 The Burmese belief on racial superiority is based on the appearance of pale skin and being a Buddhist. Those reasons alone seem to be the cause of refusal to admit Rohingya Muslims as citizens of the country.  Despite the existence of Rohingyas in Myanmar dating as far back as the 8th century, they have been targeted for their race and choice of religion, denying them basic human rights, land ownership and enlisted as stateless illegal immigrants in their own ancestral land.General Ye Mint Aung wrote to his fellow Diplomats in Hong Kong the following statement regarding this matter 
"You will see in the photos that their complexion is "dark brown" in contrast to the complexion of Myanmese which is fair and soft, good looking as well"
 In reality, the Rohingyas do speak Bengali and have the appearance similar to that of their Bengali neighbours. Myanmar's racial remarks and actions towards the Rohingyas are also offensive to it's western neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and world's power house like India. Due to The government censorship on such issues has led to few informative available for this matter. The access to aids for the Rohingyas has been limited and difficult to reach due to government restrictions. According to the Burmese authorities; 78 people have been killed, 87 injured and 52,000 have been displaced. But one thing that has come as a shock to me is that such action of extreme racism is being excused by the ASEAN countries.

Four billion years of evolutionary success and for what?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Survival machines: The Intelligence Problem Part 2

Humans are adapted to living in a variety of places on earth, which means our genes
are surely safe in the long run. Why then are we so intelligent? How does this arise from Evolution? 

Most organisms on earth have enough consciousness, neurons and complexity to live in their suited environments. This makes sense, and is slightly obvious, as these organisms have evolved over a very long period of time and contain genes which have not been sieved out by Darwin's biological game. 

There are many organisms which are very intelligent social creatures, take for example the whale and dolphin family, especially the killer whale and the bottle-nose dolphin. They are able to conjure up hunting plans in groups in situations they have never been in and they are able to play and socially interact at a level which does not explicitly show a biological gain.

However, on closer analysis dolphins and whales which are great (in groups mostly) at inventing hunting methods in new situations are able to increase their chance of eating a good meal. They are also increasing the variety of fish etc. they eat this means that they are able to survive long enough to mate and to bring up young-lings and prolong their genes. 

Take a look... >^

Their social 'time' which includes playing and interacting whilst migrating or hunting can be good for building teamwork and group cohesion which would make the group more confident and willing to perform well in group hunting sessions. Again, this brings more food. Also social 'time' allows for dolphins to find mates and reproduce... oops yes... back to that prolonging the species and survival of the genes jazz...

Elephants too a like this.. they are extremely social and intelligent animals who are very capable of surviving and living comfortably in their environment. 

However there is one species which is so intelligent it can not just persist in a certain physical space and adapt to it over time, it can adapt its own environment on huge scales to help itself. It would be like dolphins inventing a hydrogen plant underwater for them to heat up their underwater homes or to power underwater dolphin gyms to help them get in shape for hunting season.

That species is homo sapiens. Us. We are able to record our own language and store information from the present and pass it on (past our own lifetime) to the next generation. We are able to change our environment to suit us (agriculture, cities, transportation lines and energy plants) using science and technology. We are able to evolve an extremely complex society with many social levels and social standings. We are able to go the moon and land a rover on Mars. We are a clever bunch compared  to the other forms of life.

If we are merely surviving through time and are being used as pods by genes for them to prolong themselves. Then why do we need to write complex fictional stories or films... learn mathematics or create a large hadron collider? 

Firstly, we are smart due to our genes, somehow over millions of years the genes that make you and I 'smart' (some cannot be deemed 'smart' but I mean smart in a purely biological sense) have survived Darwin's evolutionary game, they are still playing. These genes either developed from original copies long ago and have somehow become victim to  mass mutation or just been selected by nature to be successful genes through many testing generations. 

So we are left with a few ways to solve this slight puzzle. We can go down the route and say that we are this intelligent because the genes that survived due to our environment have made us into a complex machine which can compute the way it does... it so happens that over time and development we could become smarter and make ourselves smarter. This view is the consequential view and basically means that we are smart because it is a consequence of our genes adapting us to be just smart for our environment. 

There is the view that our intelligence is due to mutations in our genome and that this mutation has survived somehow through time and is now in every human being. (Unlikely but still possible). 

Of course there is a mixed view which claims that our intelligence is a consequence of our systems evolving from our descendants and with our cousins (evolutionary family i.e.) just for our environment, but we so happened to become capable of further intellectual and social progress. With this some of our genes carried mutations which slipped in our genome and stayed there, these mutations could have given our intelligence a booster as it were. 

Sunday, 19 August 2012


By Alice Guile

When we hear the word ‘progress’ we will all conjure up slightly different images in our heads. Businessmen will think of progress in terms of profits and market share. Scientists will see it in terms of new discoveries. Writers and artists will see it as the continual pushing back of the boundaries of culture. But what is progress to a philosopher?

I recently watched a program that was recommended to me by my friend Luke Davies, called ‘Surviving Progress’. At the beginning of it various philosophers and intellectuals were asked the question ‘What is progress’, and it was a question that none of them could successfully answer. I will however make my own attempt to explore this intriguing question.  I think one very interesting way for a philosopher to look at the idea of progress is to look at in terms of a fairly new idea, called ‘the raising of consciousness’.  At first glance this can be mistaken for that phrase so commonly used by charities and non-profit organisations, ‘raising awareness’. But it is much more than that. The idea of the raising of consciousness was pioneered by women’s groups in the 1960’s, and formed part of the gay rights movement. The idea was to open people’s minds to the life of ‘the other’, to help people to see the bigger picture, be that that women and men have the right to be treated as equals, or that somebody should not be considered worth more or less according to their sexual orientation.

The idea of what the ‘raising of consciousness’ is a very difficult one, as most subjects in philosophy are. The best way to try and understand it is this. Imagine someone three hundred years ago; imagine talking to them about homophobia, gender and racial equality, or human right’s issues. The majority of people would find the average person living two hundred years… small minded. For example they might not be able to ‘see’ like we can that slavery is wrong. Why? Because they may fail to have the ability to imagine what it would be like to enslaved, to have a different colour skin, and because the people behind the abolition had not yet come along and raised peoples consciousness by bringing the plight of slaves to their attention. Raising consciousness is partly about education, but it is far more than that. It is not so much about knowing facts and figures as about being ‘open minded’ and being able to empathise with ‘the other’, about having the imagination to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is different to you.

And this is what philosophers should look at as progress. That doesn’t mean that we should reject the more traditional ideas of progress such as the industrialisation of a country, an increase in profits of GDP. On the contrary we should see all types of progress as being linked with the raising of consciousness. Because what might that slave owner lack that prevents him from feeling empathy with his slaves? Imagination. The imagination to see more than just the inside of his own head, the imagination to understand what it must feel like to be treated as an object. And what causes a company to create a new product, which increases their profits? Imagination.  The raising of consciousness and imagination are inexplicably linked, as are material progress such as China’s economic progress, and immaterial progress, such as the increased awareness of human rights.

If raising our consciousnesses is what has brought both ethical and economic progress in the past then it stands to reason that it is something that should be encouraged. In the past we have been raising our consciousnesses without realising we are doing it, but we are beginning to become more aware of this process. It is interesting for a philosopher to wonder about the ways in which our generation might be described as being small minded by someone born three hundred years in the future, in the same was as we would view the opinions of someone born in 1700. People say that 2012 marks the beginning of a new era, and perhaps that will be that rather than the process of the gradual raising of consciousness just happening, we will become aware that it is happening, and indeed facilitate it, so that the whole process is speeded up, who know. But one thing is for sure, and that is the we need to think seriously about the ways in which we would see that Georgian person as being prejudiced, then look at our own prejudices and try to change them. Thus, we open our minds a little wider. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Survival Machines: Worshiping the Gene. Part I

Why should anything survive at all?

Surviving is the process which a living organism takes part in to prolong its own bio-mechanical body through time. Predators such as the crocodile try to survive by hunting specific prey and eating it, digesting its flesh and ultimately absorbing its nutrients, vitamins and proteins. Prey such as the gazelle (hunted by the cheetah) try and survive by consuming vegetation and water, they also try and survive by avoiding predators. Most living organisms survive through consumption of other chemicals and through avoiding predators.

This begs the question; Why do living organisms survive? It is programmed within them to survive. It is innate. They are born to survive. Therefore we must look at the programming of living organisms to fully grasp this innate urge to survive. It so happens that all of the diverse life on earth have a similar program, all of these programs use the same code and the same information infrastructure to build organisms. This code is now called the genetic code. The information infrastructure is how these codes are 'read' out by certain (RNA transcription ect.) molecular processes to build proteins and cellular tissue. Each living cell (upon development) of a living organism needs instruction on how to build itself and how many, these instructions come from DNA which contains genetic information. In cells strands of DNA form into chromosones with four cistrons (legs of chromosone).

It so happens that these genes which are long lived units of chromosone, also seem to 'want' to survive. 'Want' is a word which connotes a conscious decision for something in particular, we must always remember that genes do not think, they are merely units of chromosone containing biological information. So, genes want to survive. Genes (assuming all other integrated genes remain the same- as genes work together) which promote longer legs in a Gazelle  may be favored in Gazelles, as longer legs could increase their stride length which could increase speed to avoid predators. Those Gazelles with longer legs may have a better chance of survival, which means they could reproduce more than those Gazelles which died due to shorter legs. This means that over time more Gazelles will appear with longer legs. The gene which promoted longer legs will eventually dominate the other alleles in the gene pool. It will have increased it's own chances of survival.

So organisms survive merely because their bodies have enabled them to persist in certain environments and they are programmed (by their genes) to want to persist through time. This is due to their genes wanting to survive.

However why should genes 'want' to survive. They are merely a complex accumulation of chemicals and molecules... why should they want to persist as they are? This question could be asked ad infinitum on smaller and smaller scales. Genes survive merely because they do. The physical nature of those chemicals and molecules dictates that they should, the laws of physics dictates that they should survive.

It becomes extremely confusing to many people who wonder 'why' we, life and genes survive. It is ultimately how the physical world over time has developed. It becomes confusing because there seems to be no conscious entity driving things forward... evolving them. The universe over time has enabled this to happen, by chance life exists and obeys a program which forces units of information to survive which in turn forces biological cells to survive and at last for us, living organisms to survive. 

Why should anything survive at all? It is how the universe has developed. It has led to complex life. Nothing needs to survive, it just happens that things do. It is a beautiful event.