Saturday, May 19, 2012

Do our eyes see the truth?

One fine evening, I lied on the grass and gazed blankly at the sky. The birds had long stopped chirping and were blissfully asleep. The moon’s crescent was the biggest source of light in the sky which was bedecked with numerous twinkling stars. I spent a few childish moments guessing the shapes of the constellation. Suddenly, a question struck me. Are the stars truly there or these are just the illusion of my eye? Science answered this question for me.

A basic principle of optical physics is that we see things when light originating from the object enters our eyes. We also know that light, traveling at a speed of 300,000 kms/sec, takes about 8 minutes to reach earth from the sun. This means that the sun we see from earth is how it was eight minutes before. If the sun gets extinguished due to any reason, we will continue to see it for 8 more minutes. Similarly, light from the stars take many (tens, hundreds or millions) light years to reach the earth. Considering this, we may actually be seeing the stars that don’t even exist. In any case, the stars that we see are what existed many many years ago. So our physical sense of vision is focused on the past, on what has happened. We can't even see the present. So do our eyes really see the truth?

To our eyes, a leaf appears green because it reflects green colour. So the leaf is green from the perspective of our eyes. But the truth is that the leaf has discarded the green and absorbed everything else. So what is the true colour of the leaf – the colour our eyes see or that which it absorbs?

Going by this simple logic, it is easy to extrapolate that the people who we call white or fair are the ones who reflect maximum light and absorb little. The people who we call black or dark absorb maximum light and reflect little. So who is more of a being of light and who is truly dark from within? 

Do our eyes see the truth? Hmn ... time to reflect.